On-Page SEO Checklist: My 35-Step Process For Writing Search Engine Optimized Content In WordPress (2020 Complete Guide)

On-Page-SEO-Checklist

The is the same on-page SEO checklist I use to write every post on my blog.

Most of it has nothing to do with Yoast, in fact I ignore most of Yoast’s recommendations since they put too much emphasis on keyword density and not enough on real on-page SEO factors.

Instead, I focus on finding a long-tail keyword which has low competition in Google’s search results, then creating in-depth content that is organized with a table of contents and nice graphics. I also talk about lesser-known strategies like targeting variations of a keyword, optimizing your table of contents to get in Google’s featured snippets, and making content format properly on Facebook/Twitter (using Yoast). I don’t have an infographic like Backlinko, but these are all actionable tips that will improve your on-page SEO, especially for WordPress.

I have gotten many requests to write this, so I hope it’s useful. Comment if you need help.

 

1. Find A Long-Tail Keyword

Use Google Autocomplete to find a long-tail keyword with  3+ words.

If you start Googling the keyword and it has lots of Autocomplete results below it, that keyword is probably too competitive and in most cases, you should choose one of the more specific (long-tail) phrases. The only time you should consider choosing a broad, competitive keyword is if you plan on creating in-depth content, and if your site has high domain authority.

Long-Tail Keywords

 

2. Learn The Keyword’s Competition

Google the keyword and review the content in the top results.

A keyword is more competitive if:

  • It’s broad
  • Top results have strong content
  • Top results have high DA/PA in MozBar
  • It has high competition in Keywords Everywhere
  • Top results are populated with authority websites
  • You see lots of advertisements from Google AdWords
  • Top results have strong signals (links, comments, shares)
  • There are lots of search results (11.6 million is a lot, but I’m giving it a shot)

Tools I Use:
Keywords Everywhere – Google any keyword and see it’s monthly search volume, CPC (cost per click), and estimated competition. Manually researching the top results is better though.

MozBar – Google any keyword and see each search result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority). Choose keywords with lower PA, and compete within your own DA range.

Keyword Competition

 

3. Find Keyword Variations

These are synonyms (or very closely related) keywords.

Try looking at the different Autocomplete results or searching for a similar keyword. You can use the underline character _ to have Google fill-in-the-blank (a neat little trick I like to use). You can target multiple keyword variations in the post title, SEO title, and meta description.

Keyword Variation(2)

Keyword Variation

Keyword Variations

Example:

  • Keyword #1: on-page SEO checklist (primary)
  • Keyword #2: on-page SEO guide
  • Keyword #3: on-page SEO 2019
  • Keyword #4: on-page SEO process
  • Keyword #5: content SEO checklist

So I wrote the title:

On-Page SEO Checklist: My 33-Step Process For Writing Search Engine Optimized Content (2019 Complete Guide)

 

4. Create A Post

In case you didn’t know how:

Add A New Post

 

5. Write A Keyword-Rich Headline

Qualities of a good headline:

  • Makes people want to read (duh)
  • Primary keyword is ideally in front
  • Keyword variations sprinkled throughout title

Post Title

Other Examples:

Headline 6

Headline 3

Headline 4

Headline 5

Headline 2

 

This emphasizes your keyword to search engines.

Shortened Permalink

Should I Remove Stop Words?
Yoast recommends removing stop words, but this can make URLs ready funny and is NOT always good. Take a look at the examples below. If you can shorten the permalink to include your keyword and read nicely, do it. But if it butchers the URL and doesn’t make sense, don’t.

Yoast-Stop-Words

Yoast-Stop-Words-Examples

 

7. Write The SEO Title + Meta Description

These are the forefront of your SEO and determine the post’s click-through rate. You should include your keyword (ideally in the front), target multiple keyword variations, and follow the character limits. It’s also a good idea to include a number or modifier like “2019” or “checklist.”

Yoast Snippet

Tips For Writing SEO Titles + Meta Descriptions

  • SEO title length: 600 pixels (about 58 characters)
  • Meta description length: 920 pixels (about 158 characters)
  • Do not use Yoast’s snippet variables (write them yourself!)
  • Primary keyword is in front, secondary keywords are sprinkled

 

8. Create An HTML Table Of Contents

I can’t stress how important this is.

A table of contents organizes the post, lets people jump (and link to) specific sections, and increases your chance of being awarded jump-to links and featured snippets by Google. It also encourages longer content (Brian Dean and most SEOs recommend at least 3,000+ words).

Why You Should Do It

  • Helps users navigate the post
  • People can link to specific sections
  • Encourages in-depth content (3,000+ words)
  • Chance of getting jump-to links in Google by using named anchors

Template:

 

Featured snippets can be in the form of lists, paragraphs, or tables.

Since your table of contents is a list, make each item concise and actionable. Do not ask questions or give long answers – people want direct solutions to the problem for their query.

How In Google’s Featured Snippets

  • Find a keyword where people want concise information (eg. a list)
  • Moz Keyword Explorer has a filter that helps find question keywords
  • Target existing keywords/featured snippets that don’t do a good job
  • Create a concise, logical table of contents to target ‘list’ featured snippets
  • Create fact-based content with quality references (links, graphics, etc)
  • Make sure you’re on the 1st page for the keyword, if not, improve the content
  • Design an image exactly describing the keyword and label the image file name + alt text as the exact keyword (this can get that image showing in your featured snippet as well)
  • Google ultimately determines whether they will show your result, or any result at all

Featured Snippet List

Featured-Image-Snippets

 

10. Add FAQ Rich Snippets

FAQ rich snippets are great for standing out in search results:

FAQ Google Snippets

Instructions

  • Install the Structured Content plugin.
  • Edit a page/post you want to FAQs on.
  • Click the “FAQ” icon in the WYSIWYG editor.
  • Add your questions and answers (I recommend 3-8).
  • Click the OK button and the plugin will add the code to your post.
  • Once the post is published, submit the URL to Google’s URL Inspector.
  • Your FAQs should appear in Google’s search results within a matter of minutes.

 

11. Drop Internal/External Links

These should provide helpful resources for specific topics not completely covered in the post, don’t just insert them for SEO or link to Wikipedia. If your visitors click it, it should be helpful.

Internal Links – natural ways to build links to your site while mentioning articles where visitors can more information on specific topics, while improving bounce rate and time on site.

External Links – similar to citing sources to Google. I always use internal links if I have content about the topic, otherwise I link to external sources where people can find more information.

 

12. Get Content From Facebook Groups

I love taking screenshots of Facebook conversations, especially polls.

It’s an easy way to show upvoted answers, common solutions to problems, and comparison polls. There are plenty of polls on the best hosting, cache plugins, SEO plugins, and others.

Step 1: Join Facebook Groups related to your topic/industry.

Facebook Groups

Step 2: Search Facebook for specific topics while only searching within your Groups.

Facebook Keyword Search

Step 3: Find polls and conversations related to the topic, then share them with your readers:

SEO Plugin Facebook Poll

 

13. Design Images

I use GIMP.

Be sure to crop/resize images to the correct dimensions (see next section).

GIMP Editor

 

14. Optimize Images

Alt Text – the Auto Image Alt Attribute plugin will automatically add alt text to images based on their file name. Just remember to write a descriptive file names before uploading images.

Alt-Text

Resize Images To Correct Dimensions – my blog is 680px width so I crop/resize full width images to those dimensions. Otherwise I would see serve scaled images errors in GTmetrix.

680 Pixel Width Rectangle

Lossless Compression – ShortPixel, Smush, Imagify, and Kraken all do the same thing (lossless compression + EXIF data removal). I use ShortPixel which shows an unnoticeable quality loss.

optimize-images-gtmetrix

 

15. Write A Solid Introduction

How to write a great introduction:

  • Use your keyword in the first couple sentences
  • Add links (from the TOC) to entice people to jump to a specific section
  • Tell them why they should read your post (eg. I don’t focus much on Yoast)
  • Be personal, lead with a story, or talk about topics that are currently going on

Post Introduction

 

16. End With A Call To Action

What do you want people to do?

  • Read another post
  • Make an affiliate sale
  • Follow you on social media
  • Subscribe to your newsletter
  • Get in touch as a potential client

Call To Action

I rely on affiliate marketing to make a living, so I usually link to my WordPress speed guide which is super helpful, but also promotes SiteGround where I get a commission from each sale.

Just sayin’ but at least I’m transparent.

2019-Hosting-Facebook-Poll

Get hosting from SiteGround Get managed cloud hosting from Cloudways

 

17. Spell Check Using Grammarly

Grammarly is great, but you should have someone else read it with fresh eyes.

I like to reread it first thing in the morning, or hand it off to a coworker. You can also hire a writer. If you do not speak native English, you should 100% hire someone to edit your copy.

Grammary Recommendations

 

18. Assign A Category And Give It Some Tags

Assign the post to 1 category, and give it a few tags. Don’t overdo the tags.

WordPress Categories
WordPress Tags

 

19. Optimize For Social Sharing

This makes your content format properly when shared on Facebook/Twitter, specifically your image since both networks use custom dimensions to display it, otherwise it will look funny.

Facebook Post

If using Yoast, go to the “Social” settings and enable Open Graph for both Facebook/Twitter:

Yoast-Social-Meta-Data

Now edit a page/post, then click the “share” link in Yoast and you will see options to upload custom images for Facebook (1200 width x 628 height) and Twitter (1024 width x 512 height).

yoast-social-media-optimization

 

20. Add Rich Snippets To Reviews

If you’re writing reviews, you need rich snippets.

I use the premium WP Review plugin which looks great (here’s an example post I use it on), does the job, and is lightweight so it doesn’t affect my load times or my GTmetrix reports.

Structured-Data-Review-Stars

Instructions

  • Write reviews, recipes, or other content types where rich snippets can be used
  • Choose a rich snippets plugin (eg. All In One Schema or WP Review)
  • All In One Schema is free but has minimal customization options and looks boring
  • WP Review looks much better, has multiple pre-styled templates, is maintained and updated frequently by the MyThemeShop, supports 14 data types, and is what I use
  • Use the plugin to markup content and test it using Google’s Structured Data Tool
  • Use my tutorial on adding rich snippets to WordPress for full instructions

 

21. Add Multimedia

Videos keep people on the post longer. Ideally it’s your own since embedding videos on your blog gives them more views, likes, comments, and engagement, a key factor for YouTube SEO.

That’s why I like creating YouTube videos in conjunction with my blog content. I haven’t created a video for on-page SEO yet (I probably will soon), so for now, here’s Brian Dean:

 

22. Ignore Yoast Feedback

Yoast green lights don’t matter.

Yoast doesn’t tell you anything about keyword competition, content depth, or how to improve engagement. It focuses too much on keyword density and not enough on what actually makes great content. Instead of focusing on green lights, beef up your articles with a table of contents and cover the topics in more depth. That is what I did to grow my blog to 3,000 visitors/day.

Importance Of Yoast Green Lights

 

23. Prefetch DNS Requests

This helps browsers anticipate external resources so they can load them faster.

If you embedded YouTube videos, Tweets, Facebook posts, or even use social sharing plugins or comment plugins, these can slow down your website and also show in your GTmetrix report.

Here is a great list of common domains to prefetch:

Prefetch-DNS-Requests-WP-Rocket

You can add them to WP Rocket (the cache plugin I recommend):

Prefetch-DNS-Requests

Otherwise, add them to your header:

<link rel=”dns-prefetch” href=”//youtube.com”>
<link rel=”dns-prefetch” href=”//maps.googleapis.com”>
<link rel=”dns-prefetch” href=”//fonts.googleapis.com”>

 

24. Test Load Times In GTmetrix

Thank you Cloudways for the crazy load times. Even posts with tons of images load in <1s when they’re 2.70MB and have 61 requests.

If I didn’t embed the YouTube video or GitHub code it would be 100%. Make sure images are optimized, use fast hosting, a good cache plugin, PHP 7+, and see my WordPress speed guide.

On-Page-SEO-Load-Times

SiteGround vs Cloudways Cloud Hosting

 

25. Publish The Post

Go ahead, do it.

Publish Post

 

26. Disable Unused Scripts + Plugins

You might be familiar with Plugin Organizer, which lets you selectively disable plugins you don’t use on certain pages/posts. This is the same idea, only I use Kinsta’s perfmatters plugin. Since I’m not using rich snippets in this post, I disabled my rich snippets plugin in the settings.

You can also use the free WP Asset Clean Up plugin.

Script Manager

 

Each link in your table of contents should jump to it’s subheading. Hold ctrl (PC) or control (Mac) and click each link to make sure it works. The tags in your subheadings and table of contents tags should match. Otherwise if it’s another problem, recheck the GitHub code.

Table Of Contents Links

 

28. Submit URL To Google

Next, submit the URL to Google using their URL Inspector in Search Console.

FAQ Request Indexing

 

29. Make Sure Google Doesn’t Cut Off Snippets

If your SEO title + meta description are too long, Google will cut it off. Make sure they don’t.

Google Snippet

 

Anytime you mention the topic, include a link to the article.

Internal Link

 

31. Keep The Article And Publish Date Current

Adding a post modified date makes  your content look fresh and increases click-through rates.

First, enable ‘date in snippet preview’ in Yoast (SEO → Search Appearance → Content Types).

Date-In-Snippet-Preview-Yoast

Now add this code to your theme (or use the Post Updated Date plugin) which does the same thing. If you’re using the Genesis Framework you can use Genesis Simple Edits plugin to add the post modified date shortcode to the ‘Entry Meta’ section under Genesis → Simple Edits.

<p>Last modified: <?php the_modified_date(); ?></p>

Mine looks like this…

Entry-Meta

Which results in…

Post Modified Date

Keep the article updated to refresh the publish date:

Publish Date

 

32. Send A Newsletter

Anytime you publish a great article, tell your subscribers about it (and what’s in it).

Mailchimp Newsletter

 

33. Take It To Social Media

Without being spammy, share it in Facebook Groups and other places.

 

34. Respond To Comments

HubSpot did a study on comments and found this:

“There is no correlation between the number of comments on a post and the number of views that post got. There’s also no correlation between comments and the number of links that post got.

Pros

  • They’re where I get my most valuable feedback
  • People who receive feedback are more likely to sign up for my newsletter
  • Creates a two-way conversation (eg. you’re trying to get clients to contact you)

Cons

  • Spam, lots of it
  • Too many people trying to get a link
  • It’s basically free consulting (if you don’t have guidelines)

 

35. Monitor The Post’s Performance

After a couple weeks, check the performance report in Google Search Console which helps you see the post’s performance. It tells you it’s ranking position, clicks, and click-through rate.

If the post ranks high with lots of impressions, but has a low click-through rate, consider rewriting the SEO title + meta description. If it doesn’t rank well at all, improve the content.

Use Google Analytics to check the post’s average session duration and bounce rate.

If the post has bad bounce rates and average session duration, it could be anything from slow load times to poor web design, no internal links, or lack of well-designed, original graphics. Try listing your most popular tutorials in your sidebar (see mine).

 

Backlinko’s On-Page SEO Infographic

This post wouldn’t be complete without Backlinko’s on-page SEO infographic:

on-page-seo

You May Also Like: How I Got 100% Scores In GTMetrix (WordPress Speed Guide)

 

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ How did I get these FAQs in Google?

Install the Structured Content plugin and use it to add FAQs to pages/posts. The plugin will markup the content for you, then test the page in Google's Structured Data Testing Tool.

✅ How important are Yoast's green lights?

Not very important. Yoast emphasizes keyword usage but doesn't pay much attention to keyword research, quality content, rich snippets, or adding an HTML table of contents. The most important places to use your keyword are in the page title, URL, SEO title, meta description, and a couple times in the content. The rest is quality content + on-page SEO.

✅ What are on-page SEO factors outside of Yoast?

Rich snippets, FAQ rich snippets, adding a table of contents, quality content, using multimedia like infographics and videos, speed optimization, and getting your content showing in Google's featured snippets to name a few.

✅ How do you add a table of contents to long posts?

I recommend using HTML instead of a plugin to make sure the TOC includes linked anchors so people can jump to (and link) to specific sections of your post. I listed the code in this tutorial.

✅ How do you get in Google's featured snippets?

Google can show featured snippets for paragraphs, lists, and tables. Find a question keyword where it makes sense that Google would show featured snippets, or ones that already exists with content that does a poor job answering the question. Next, create a section on your post that answers the question concisely. If optimizing for lists, create a table of contents. Keep the maximum character counts in mind.

Subscribe To My Newsletter: Subscribe to my newsletter if you liked this post! I continuously write new tutorials on WordPress SEO + speed optimization over 3,000 people read each day.

Cheers,
Tom

24 WordPress SEO Tips To Optimize Your Site In 2020

If you’re looking for less obvious WordPress SEO tips, I have just the list for you.

You’ve probably heard enough about Yoast green lights for one lifetime. That’s why this list includes practical tips that go way beyond Yoast, including a full list of SEO and speed optimization plugins. I used these to grow my SEO blog to 3,000 readers/day as a 1-man show.

Just read it, you will definitely learn something.

 

1. Install The Right SEO Plugins

  • Yoast SEO – you probably already use Yoast, but most people don’t do these things correctly: forgetting keyword density, snippet variables, bulk editor, and social optimization. Or see my Yoast tutorial which covers all 4 steps to Yoast: settings configuration, Webmaster Tools, focus keywords, content SEO.
  • Google Site Kit – Google’s new WordPress plugin which integrates Google Analytics, Search Console, AdSense, and PageSpeed Insights. It’s still in beta.
  • WP Review – rich snippet plugin (best one out there IMO) and is what I use. Here’s a page I use it on. It looks great, supports 14 data types (including editor reviews, user reviews, and recipes), comes with 16 pre-styled templates, and is supported by MyThemeShop. All In One Schema is free but very minimal and lacks customization. WP Rich Snippets was abandoned by the developer. WP Review is lightweight and has both a free and pro version with tons of options.
  • Easy Table Of Contents – adding a TOC has huge SEO benefits. It encourages long content, lets people link to specific sections of your post, makes them click around, and Google may award you jump-to links by using name anchors.
  • Automatic Alt Attributes – automatically adds alt text to images, preventing you from having to add it manually (ever since WordPress stopped doing it).
  • Broken Link Checker – still the easiest way to find/fix broken links, but ongoing scans consume high CPUs (be sure to deactivate it when you’re done).
  • Quick Page/Post Redirect – free redirect plugin you can use to fix crawl errors (broken pages) found in Google Search Console (Yoast also has a setting for it).
  • Republish Old Posts – resets publish dates to current day, making all your posts look fresh in search results. It’s a little cheap (considering you didn’t actually update your posts with new content) but it can increase your CTRs.
  • Yoast Premium Plugins – I don’t use these since they don’t directly help SEO, but many people consider them. I wrote a review on Yoast premium explaining how redirects can be done with free plugins, multiple focus keywords aren’t as useful as you might think, and other reason I don’t think it’s worth $89/year.
  • WP Rocket – #1 rated cache plugin in multiple Facebook polls. Easy to setup, yields great results, and is updated frequently. Comes with many features most cache plugins don’t (database cleanup, lazy load, local Google Analytics hosting, heartbeat control, and integrate with Cloudflare and other CDNs).
  • Analytify – shows Google Analytics metrics directly in WordPress dashboard.
  • Really Simple SSL – automatically configures site for SSL. You still need to sign up for an SSL (I use the free Let’s Encrypt SSL which comes with SiteGround).

 

2. Leverage New Keyword Research Tools

Answer The Public – pulls keywords from Google Autocomplete and creates a visual keyword map. Breaks keywords down into questions, prepositions, and comparison keywords. The greener the circle, the more searches the keyword has. Not only a great way to find keywords, but to make sure your content is comprehensive and answers all questions people are asking.

Yoast Keywords – AnswerThePublic

Moz Keyword Explorer – similar to Google Keyword Planner only much better, since it’s designed specifically for SEO while Keyword Planner is designed for AdWords. Shows competition in organic results (KP is for AdWords), monthly search volume, and has filters for grouping similar keywords so you’re not scrolling through the same ones (very handy feature).

Moz Keyword Suggestions

Google Autocomplete Tricks – did you know you can use the underline character to have Google fill in the blank? Just make sure you end on the underline character _ and you can find an entire list of keywords you otherwise didn’t know about. I personally use this trick a lot.

Google-Autocomplete-Fill-In-The-Blank-1

MozBar – Chrome extension that lets you Google any keyword and see each result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority). The higher they are, the more competitive the keyword is. Check your DA in Moz Link Explorer and compete with sites that have similar DA.

MozBar Keyword Competition

Researching a keyword’s competition is a must. You don’t want to create content you’ll never rank for. The best indicator is if you Google the keyword, short (weak) content is in the top results. If you can create better, more thorough content, then it’s probably a good keyword.

Keyword Competition

 

3. Forget About Keyword Density

Yoast’s SEO analysis awards you green lights when you complete recommendations. The problem is, most have to do with keyword usage, and there’s more to on-page SEO than this.

What Yoast should say:

WARNING: injecting keywords in your content/snippets makes them look spammy. Have you thought about writing an SEO title + meta description to increase CTR? Every result in Google will be using the keyword – why would anyone click your link? Yes, you should use your keyword in the page title, URL, SEO title, and meta description (the most important places)… but don’t inject keywords just to get green lights. Forget about keyword density and keywords in subheadings… add a table of contents to organize longer posts, use videos, infographics, rich snippets, social sharing images, and beef up thin content to make it better (more detailed) than the top search results.

Here’s an overview of Yoast:

Yoast SEO Analysis

 

4. Avoid Yoast Snippet Variables

In Yoast’s settings, they give you the option to use snippet variables which act as templates for SEO titles + meta descriptions. Writing custom ones is ALWAYS better and you should never rely on templates as they’re not optimized for keywords, character length (green bar), or CTR.

Yoast-Snippet-Variables

 

5. Increase CTRs With Yoast’s Bulk Editor

Yoast’s bulk editor lets you review all your SEO titles + meta descriptions without having to manually go through each page/post. You should make sure they’re optimized for keywords, character length, and CTR. The bulk editor doesn’t have the green bar (detects character length) and it doesn’t focus keywords either, so you’ll need to keep those in mind. But you can quickly see at a glance whether they read well and entice people to click on your link, or not.

Yoast-Bulk-Editor

 

6. Optimize Content For Social Sharing

Want your content to format nicely for Facebook/Twitter?

facebook-share

Step 1: Enable Open Graph meta data under Yoast’s Facebook and Twitter tab:

Yoast-Social-Meta-Data

Step 2: Edit a page/post, then click the “share” link in Yoast. Upload custom images for Facebook (1200 x 630px) and Twitter (1024 x 512px). You can also customize the title + description for each social network, which by default is set as the SEO title + meta description. This comes in handy when running boosted posts for Facebook Ads and want different text.

yoast-social-media-optimization

 

7. Aim For 3,000 Words

It makes sense.

Longer content does a better job at covering a topic than short content. People also spend more time on your page, finding it more useful, and are more likely to link and share the post.

average-content-length

Some of my posts are 4,000+ words…

WordPress Word Count

 

8. Add A Table Of Contents

Creating 3,000 word count articles may sound daunting, but it’s easier when you start with a table of contents. This has huge SEO benefits like Google awarding jump-to links using named anchors, and allows people to link to specific sections. It also increases time spent on the page.

How To Create An HTML Table Of Contents
Table of contents HTML looks like this…
<ul>
<li><a href="/your-permalink/#item-one">Item One</a></li>
<li><a href="/your-permalink/#item-two">Item Two</a></li>
<li><a href="/your-permalink/#item-three">Item Three</a></li>
</ul>

Each subheading’s HTML looks like this…
<h3 id="item-one">Item One</h3>
<h3 id="item-two">Item Two</h3>
<h3 id="item-three">Item Three</h3>

Or you can try the Easy Table Of Contents plugin.

 

9. Create Comprehensive Content

Nothing satisfies Google more than comprehensive content. You can “optimize” all you want but if your content doesn’t cover the topics extensively, someone else’s content probably will.

Answer The Public tells you all “question keywords” people are searching about a topic. It’s a great way to make sure you’re answering the most popular questions people want to know.

Yoast Keywords – AnswerThePublic

 

10. Add Rich Snippets

The WP Review plugin by MyThemeShop is the plugin I use for rich snippets and has a free and pro version (both are great). I would avoid All In One Schema (free but lacks customization) as well as WP Rich Snippets (the developer abandoned it and isn’t compatible with PHP 7). I was previously using WP Rich Snippets, but he literally didn’t update the plugin for 2 full years.

Why I Use WP Review As My Rich Snippets Plugin

  • Supports 14 data types
  • It’s lightweight (loads fast)
  • Comes with 16 pre-styled templates
  • It’s updated frequently by MyThemeShop
  • It’s highly customizable (here’s a page I use it on)
  • Multiple rating systems with optional user reviews

Structured Data Review Stars

 

11. Add Publish Dates To Posts

If you have time sensitive posts, adding a publish date makes your content look fresh:

Publish Date

Step 1: Enable ‘date in snippet preview’ in Yoast (SEO > Search Appearance > Content Types).

Date-In-Snippet-Preview-Yoast

Step 2: Add post modified date to the top of posts. Here’s the code:

<p>Last modified: <?php the_modified_date(); ?></p>

Of if using the Genesis Framework, use Genesis Simple Edits:

Entry-Meta

It should look something like this:

Entry Post Modified Date

Step 3 (Optional): Install the Republish Old Posts plugin. This resets all post’s publish date to current day, updating the date in search results and making all content look new. Of course, it’s a little cheap since you really didn’t update the content, but it can significantly increase CTRs.

Republish Old Posts

 

Google ultimately chooses who (and if) someone gets a featured snippet, but there are definitely ways to optimize for them. This puts you in the “#0” position and gives you 2 results.

3 Types Of Featured Snippets:

  • Answers
  • Lists
  • Tables

Featured Snippets

How To Get Featured Snippets In Google

  • Target a keyword where people want a concise answer
  • Use Moz Keyword Explorer to identify question keywords
  • Use Answer The Public to find even more question keywords
  • Choose whether the answer should be a paragraph, list, or table
  • Design a nice graphic (or take a photo) describing the keyword
  • Use optimal character length (see photo below taken from Moz)
  • Create fact-based content with quality references (links, graphics, etc)
  • Target keywords that already have an featured snippet but do a poor job
  • If you’re aiming for the answer box, target your keyword using an exact match
  • Make sure you’re on the 1st page for the keyword, if not, improve the content

Optimial Featured Snippets Length

 

13. Install WordPress Speed Plugins

I have done extensive testing on these plugins and use most of them on my own website.

  1. WP Rocket –  #1 cache plugin in most Facebook polls. You do not need plugins 3-7 from this list if you’re using WP Rocket, as it has these features built-in.
  2. WP Fastest Cache – #1 free cache plugin in most polls. Also easy to configure, has options for Cloudflare + other CDNs, but lacks features from WP Rocket.
  3. WP-Optimize – cleans your database of spam, trash, and other junk files.
  4. Lazy Load – delays loading photos until users scroll down and see them (improves load times but constantly loading photos as you scroll is annoying).
  5. Lazy Load For Videos – delays loading videos/iframes until users scroll down and see them. Videos take forever to load – this can shave many seconds off.
  6. CDN Enabler – easily setup your content delivery network (I use StackPath).
  7. CAOS (Host Google Analytics Locally) – fixes the “leverage browser caching” item in GTmetrix by hosting your Google Analytics tracking code locally.
  8. CAOS (Host Web Fonts Locally) – fixes Google Font errors in GTmetrix + Pingdom by downloading your Google Fonts and creating a stylesheet for it.
  9. Imagify / ShortPixel / Smushimage optimization (lossless compression, resize images, remove EXIF data). All these are similar – you only need one.
  10. Specify Image Dimensions – adds a width/height to your image’s HTML, an item in GTmetrix. It only works for images in the visual editor, it does not work for images in page builders, widgets, or any areas outside the visual editor.
  11. AMP For WPadds AMP pages to make mobile pages load faster and gives your site an “AMP Stamp” in mobile search results, which may increase CTRs.
  12. Perfmatters / Clearfy – disables unnecessary functions in WordPress core (trackbacks, pingbacks, heartbeat API, REST API, and other things 99% of you don’t need). Both plugins are similar and have other speed features as well.
  13. Harry’s Gravatar Cachecaches Gravatars, making comments load faster.
  14. GTmetrix for WordPress – keep track of load times and set email alerts.
  15. Display PHP Versionshows which PHP version you’re running (should be at least 7) which has a huge speed impact. You can upgrade in your host’s cPanel.
  16. Query Monitor – see slowest plugins, queries, etc (good replacement for P3).
  17. Plugin Organizer – if you install a contact form plugin, you probably don’t want it loading on every single page (just your contact page). Plugin Organizer lets you control which plugins load on specific pages, posts, and other content.
  18. Autoptimize – if you’re using GoDaddy, WP Engine, or other hosts who blacklist caching plugins, this plugin still gives you the benefits of optimizing HTML/CSS/JavaScript (items in GTmetrix + Pingdom) but without the caching.
  19. WP Hosting Performance Check – tells you if your server is slow and whether your speed technology (PHP, MySQL, WordPress versions) need updating.
  20. Better Search Replace – if you changed www or https versions of your domain, this plugin helps you bulk update all links on your website to reflect the new version. Otherwise you will see ‘minimize redirect’ errors in GTmetrix.

 

14. Avoid High CPU Plugins

Here’s a list of WordPress plugins that will slow down your site. I borrowed this list from a post on the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group (an amazing group) but also added a few myself.

*Common culprits include related post, statistic, sitemap, chat, calendar, page builders, and plugins that run ongoing scans/processes or show high CPU in GTmetrix.

  1. AddThis
  2. AdSense Click Fraud Monitoring
  3. All-In-One Event Calendar
  4. Backup Buddy
  5. Beaver Builder
  6. Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps
  7. Broken Link Checker
  8. Constant Contact for WordPress
  9. Contact Form 7
  10. Contextual Related Posts
  11. Digi Auto Links
  12. Disqus Comment System
  13. Divi Builder
  14. Elementor
  15. View Full List Of 65 Slow Plugins

Query Monitor will also find your slowest plugins…

Query Monitor Slow Plugins

GTmetrix’s Waterfall tab is another method…

Slow WordPress Plugin

 

15. Make Images Load Faster

Did you know images can be optimized 20 different ways? I had no idea there were so many ways before writing that article, especially when you take into consideration caching, lazy load,Cloudflare options, removing EXIF data, CSS sprites, and even optimizing them for SEO.

Image Optimization TOC

Here’s a list of image optimization items in GTmetrix (I’ll cover the main ones):

Image Optimizations In GTmetrix

Losslessly compress images – use a plugin like ImagifyShortPixel, Smush, or Kraken (all do the same thing) which also removes EXIF data (ISO, date, time, whether a flash was used, and other unnecessary info about the photo) which when stripped, will make it load a little faster.

Imagify Optimize Images On Upload

Serve scaled images – find oversized images and resize them to the correct dimensions). You can use GTmetrix to find these, and they will also provide you with the correct width/height.

serve-scaled-images

Specify image dimensions – means you need to specify a width/height in the image’s HTML or CSS. Grab these dimensions from GTmetrix, locate the image, and add the width/height.

Specifying Image Dimensions

 

16. Leave EIG Hosting

The same horrible company owns Bluehost, HostGator, and over 60 different hosting companies. They’re known for buying out existing companies and cutting costs by packing more people on the same server, as well as “streaming” support (longer wait times). GoDaddy isn’t good either – there are much better options like SiteGround, Cloudways, and WP Engine.

List-Of-EIG-Brands

How To Check If Your Hosting Is Slow
Run your site through bytecheck.com and check your TTFB (time to first byte). It should ideally be <320ms. This and reduce server response time in PageSpeed Insights are good indicators.

Reduce-Server-Response-Time-Under-200ms

I use SiteGround and have 200ms response times with 100% GTmetrix scores and .4s Pingdom load times. Do a hosting check, run your own tests, or click through my pages to see how fast they load. They were rated the #1 host in 26 Facebook polls and are worlds better than EIG (Bluehost, HostGator), GoDaddy, and bad hosts who pack too many people on the same server. They’re recommended by WordPress, do free migrations, and I use their semi-dedicated plan.

Switching To SiteGround

SiteGround Load Time Migration

Bluehost to SiteGround GTmetrix

HostGator To SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix

SiteGround Google PageSpeed Insights

100 Perfect Score On SiteGround

SiteGround Genesis

Speed Delivered By SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix Report

Reduced Load Times With SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Times

HostGator To SiteGround Migration

SiteGround Response Times On Joomla

Switched To SiteGround Hosting

SiteGround Rocket Imagify Combo

Joomla GTmetrix On SiteGround

SiteGround PageSpeed Insights

SiteGround On Joomla

SiteGround Reduced Load Times

SiteGround Speedy Hosting

New Pingdom Results On SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Time

SiteGround Response Time Improvement

2019 Hosting Poll

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

July 2019 Hosting Recommendation

WordPress-Host-Poll-Aug-2018

Shared-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosting-Poll

Go-To-Hosting-Company

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

Managed-Hosting-Poll

WooCommerce-Hosting-FB-Poll

2016-Web-Hosting-Poll

Best-WordPress-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-2019-Poll

WP Friendly Hosting Poll

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

2018 Hosting Recommendations

WordPress Hosting Poll Sept 2018.png

Managed-WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosts-Poll-1

Hosting-Poll-For-Speed

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-June-1

SiteGround-Recommendation

2014-Managed-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Hosting-Poll-Feb-2019

Hosting-Recommendations-Poll

Bluehost vs SiteGround

WordPress Web Host Poll

Godaddy To SiteGround Migration

EIG-To-SiteGround

SiteGround-Migration

Godaddy-To-SiteGround

SiteGround-Backend

OMM-On-SiteGround

I use SiteGround because…

  1. My GTmetrixPingdom reports speak for themselves
  2. My pages load instantly (click through them if you want)
  3. Fast speed technology (PHP 7.3, NGINX, SG Optimizer, Cloudflare)
  4. Recommended by Yoast, WordPress, Ivica from WordPress Speed Up
  5. Free Let’s Encrypt SSL, easy to use cPanel, and features for eCommerce
  6. WordPress support is unbeatable even without GoGeek’s priority support
  7. GrowBig comes with staging, more storage, and more server resources (scroll down to “we allocate the resources you need” and hover over the server tab)
  8. GoGeek comes with even more server resources, storage, priority support
  9. Free migrations, migrator plugin, and a 30-day money back guarantee
  10. Plenty of praise on Reddit, Facebook conversations, Twitter, TrustPilot
  11. Tons of praise on Facebook: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7#8, #9, #10#11
  12. Many people already migrated and posted results on Twitter: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6#7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23, #24, #25, #26, #27, #28, #29, #30, #31, #32, #33, #34, #35, #36, #37

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for SiteGround using my affiliate link I will donate a chunk of the commission at no expense to you. Each year I donate $3k to GoFundMe campaigns (2018 was to feed the hungry in Denver, and 2017 was Hurricane Harvey). Your support helps and I really do appreciate it. I try to make my reviews unbiased and backed by evidence in the form of Facebook polls, tweets, and real conversations. If you don’t want to use it, here’s a non-affiliate link to SiteGround. Either way I truly believe they’re the best host and that your site will run faster/smoother… do your research on Google and Facebook groups and you’ll find most people say the same.

SiteGround has 3 plans:

SiteGround WordPress Hosting

Higher plans include more server resources (#1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide). Here’s the full comparison chart, but GrowBig gives you about 2x more server resources than StartUp, and GoGeek is semi-dedicated hosting which gives you even more. GrowBig and up comes with a free migration, staging, advanced caching, and ability to host multiple websites. GoGeek comes with priority support. Their cloud hosting is quite the price jump at $80/month.

You can see this on their features page:

SiteGround-Server-Resources-Comparison

One of many threads…

Favorite-Web-Host

 

17. Upgrade Your Cache Plugin

WP Rocket was the #1 rated cache plugin in multiple Facebook polls:

2016 best cache plugin poll

2019 cache plugin poll

Swift vs WP Rocket

2016 cache plugin poll

Best cache plugins 2018 poll

wp rocket vs w3 totla cache

What’s So Good About WP Rocket?

  • It yields great results (it’s what I use)
  • Awesome support + extensive documentation
  • It’s one of the easier cache plugins to configure (see my tutorial)
  • It has high compatibility with themes/plugins and shouldn’t break your site
  • It’s always updated with new features (many cache plugin aren’t updated frequently)
  • It has features most cache plugins don’t (database cleanup, lazy loading, hosting Google Analytics locally, heartbeat control, integration with both Cloudflare + other CDNs)

 

18. Use Multiple CDNs

We know using a CDN makes your site faster.

But what about using multiple CDNs? The answer is yes, it helps even more. That’s because each CDN has their own set of data centers, and more data centers = faster content delivery.

Cloudflare data centers

Cloudflare Data Centers

StackPath data centers

StackPath-Data-Centers

How To Do It

  • Sign up for Cloudflare (free) and a paid CDN of your choice (I use StackPath).
  • Most cache plugins have an option to integrate both Cloudflare and StackPath

With Cloudflare you will change name servers

Cloudflare Name Servers Dashboard

With StackPath you will create a CDN site, then enter your CDN URL into your cache plugin..

StackPath CDN URL

WP-Rocket-CDN-Settings

 

19. Add AMP Pages

Accelerated mobile pages are a Google project that make mobile pages load faster and give you a AMP stamp in mobile search results, which looks nice and can potentially increase CTRs.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

Instructions For Adding AMP

Accelerated Mobile Pages Plugin Settings

Cloudflare Accelerated Mobile Links

 

20. Write A Killer About Me Page

Think about it.

Your about page is one of the most viewed pages on your website.

So why don’t you spend more time on it? In my about page, I created a list of 50 random and disturbing things about me. I also have a picture of me and my cats, my family, and other personal photos – including my story on how I created a 6 figure/year blog.

About-Me-Page

Main Benefits:

  • More time spent on my website
  • Trust (more likely to buy something using my affiliate link)
  • More emails of people sharing their own story (which I love)

 

21. Add SSL

Google cracked down even harder on non-HTTPs websites in July, 2018 when they started showing “not secure” in Google Chrome. Besides, if you’re a legit business, you need SSL.

I was scared to migrate to SSL even though I work with an amazing developer who I’ve been with for since 2011. Lucky for me, he did everything correctly and my traffic did not decrease at all. In fact, my affiliate sales went up (since I think people saw me as a more legitimate blog).

HTTPS-vs-Position

How To Add SSL To WordPress

Really Simple SSL

 

22. Affiliate Sites Need To Add Value

Yep, that’s my site.

I got penalized for too many affiliate links (plus I hired a link builder who created sketchy links). This was a hard time for me and my traffic/finances plummeted as I was forced to move back into my parent’s house become I had no money. Affiliate websites need to be super careful.

Affiliate-Link-Google-Penalty

Lessons I Learned:

  • Add value to your content beyond recommending products
  • Don’t just recommend affiliate products – recommend free stuff too
  • Do not stuff your content with affiliate links, 5 is usually plenty (for me)
  • Consider creating reviews on affiliate products, and link to those instead
  • Use an affiliate link management plugin to track statistics on affiliate links
  • Track which affiliate links people click those most, then leverage those
  • Create in-depth cornerstone content (core tutorials every visitor wants to read)
  • Don’t just create “list posts” and list your affiliate products first (Google knows)

Want to learn how I made $150,000 in 2018? Read my affiliate marketing tutorial.

 

23. Use SEO-Friendly Themes

StudioPress themes (and their Genesis Framework) are recommended by Yoast, Matt Cutts (from Google), and even Matt Mullenweg himself. I’ve been using their Outreach Pro theme since 2016 and love it. My site has 100% GTmetrix scores (loads fast), has virtually no compatibility errors with plugins, and is highly customizable with StudioPress’ Genesis plugins.

StudioPress Themes

What Makes StudioPress Themes So Good?

  • Reliability – trusted by 200,000 people including top WordPress users like Yoast. Clean code, documentation for each theme, and frequent updates to both their themes and Genesis Framework. Bottom line – I don’t have to worry about compatibility issues when upgrading plugins, PHP, theme-related CPU consumption, etc. It runs smoothly.
  • Mobile-friendly – all StudioPress themes are HTML5 + mobile responsive.
  • Large CommunityGenesis WordPress (Facebook Group) has 10,000 members.
  • Plugins – all StudioPress plugins are lightweight and add virtually nothing to load time.
  • Highly Customizable – StudioPress’ Outreach Pro theme looks like it’s designed for churches, but look at my homepage. It looks nothing like the pre-designed homepage.

 

24. Local SEO (Google’s Local Ranking Factors)

If you’re doing local SEO, there are many things outside of optimizing your WordPress you should be doing. Here are Google’s 2018 local search ranking factors which are reported by Moz every 2 years. Google My Business has become more important with it being 25.12%.

2018 Local Search Ranking Factors

Optimizing Your Google My Business Page

*Google is increasingly taking into consideration activate business owners who: post on Google Posts, respond to reviews, keep special hours updated, answer questions, make it convenient for customers to take direct actions on GMB using business URLs.

Google My Business Logo

 

Heyyyy. You Made It To The End.

Check out some other tutorials of mine which are just as good!

Cheers,
Tom

How To Choose Yoast Focus Keywords: A Guide To Keyword Research And Learning The Competition In Google Search Results

Need help finding better Yoast focus keywords?

Researching Yoast focus keywords is done by selecting specific, long-tail keywords in tools like Google Autocomplete which have a nice balance of monthly searches and low competition. Google the keyword and review the top results to see the content you’re competing with. After that, it’s all about creating a strong, optimized piece of content around that keyword and topic.

These should not be guessed. You don’t want to create content for a keyword you’ll never rank for, or rank for a keyword with no search volume. We need to know WHAT people are searching (keyword research) and whether your site is capable of ranking for it (keyword competition). A little research can easily get you on page 1, and should be done before writing content. Writing about how to get out of debt vs. how to get out of debt on one income can make the difference.

I wrote a definitive Yoast tutorial that shows you how to configure the ideal settings, verify Google Search Console and fix crawl errors, optimize content (there’s more to it than green lights), and add accelerated mobile pages (AMP). Be sure to check it out when you’re done.

At the end of the day, keywords are just topics. If the topic is being searched a lot and already has strong content in search results, it’s probably competitive (especially if your site has low authority without many backlinks). If two topics are different enough, create a page for each.

Yoast-Focus-Keywords

 

1. Keyword Research Tools

  • Answer The Public – visual keyword map broken down into questions, prepositions, and comparisons. Keywords are pulled from Google Autocomplete. The greener the circle, the more searches the keyword has.
  • Keywords Everywhere – Chrome Extension that shows you the monthly volume, CPC, and organic competition when searching keywords in Google, Google Autocomplete, YouTube, Amazon, Moz, and other popular websites.
  • MozBar – Google any keyword and see each result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority) which are core indicators of how competitive a keyword is. Try competing with websites who have similar domain authority.
  • Google Autocomplete – cool tricks like using the underline character _ to have Google fill-in-the-blank. If you search Chicago _ Photographer, you will see wedding, newborn, photography, and other types of photography services.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer – similar to Google Keyword Planner (only better) as it’s designed specifically for SEO while Keyword Planner is designed for AdWords. Moz Keyword Planner shows you the competition for organic results based on each result’s links, domain authority, etc. While Keyword Planner mainly uses CPC (cost per click) based on their advertising data.
  • HubShout WebGrader – see all keywords you (and competitors) rank for. Includes other metrics like each website’s domain authority and # of backlinks.
  • Google Trends – shows history of keyword volume for Google, YouTube, other mediums. See trends for specific geographies, and questions people are asking.

 

1.1. Answer The Public

The coolest keyword research tool is definitely Answer The Public. Search a keyword and it generates a map of keywords being searched in Google Autocomplete. The greener the circle, the more searches that keyword has. It also breaks keywords down into specific categories (questions, prepositions, comparisons). Then it breaks them down even further (below is an example of “question keywords” about “Yoast” and I can see all the whats, hows, wheres, etc).

Question keywords (great way to make sure your content answers people’s questions)…

Yoast-Keywords-AnswerThePublic

Preposition keywords…

Preposition Keywords – Answer The Public

Comparison keywords…

Comparison Keywords – Answer The Public

 

1.2. Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere lets you Google any keyword (in Google, YouTube, Amazon, Etsy and other search engines), while showing each keyword’s monthly searches, cost-per-click (CPC) and competition. Combine this with MozBar (the next tool I cover) and it’s a killer combination.

Keywords Everywhere Autocomplete

YouTube Keyword Competition

Amazon Keywords

Etsy Keywords

 

1.3. MozBar

MozBar’s Chrome Extension lets you Google any keyword and see each result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority). Higher numbers = higher competition, and you want to try to compete with websites that have similar domain authority – check yours here. You can increase domain authority by getting more quality links (eg. by creating awesome content).

Mozbar Keyword Competition

MozBar Tips

  • Learn your DA using Link Explorer and compete for keywords in your range
  • Broad phrases usually have high DA + PA, long-tail phrases have low DA + PA
  • Build your DA by getting more links to your site (through awesome content)
  • Websites (especially new ones) will have low DA, so target very specific phrases
  • You can build PA by improving the content and pointing internal links to the page

Combine Keywords Everywhere with MozBar to see a nice glimpse of your competition…

Keyword Competition

Avoid Keywords That Show Strong Content
The best opportunities are when you Google a keyword, weak or irrelevant content appears in the top results. Just Google the keyword and skim through the top results to see if people cover the topic extensively. If not, that means it’s the perfect opportunity for you to rank high.

Weak Search Results

Avoid Competing With Authority Websites

  • amazon.com
  • wikipedia.com
  • yelp.com
  • credit.com
  • and so forth…

 

1.4. Google Autocomplete

Go to google.com and start typing in a keyword to have Google complete the phrase (remember, you’re looking for long-tail phrases usually with 3+ words since those are much less competitive). You can also use an underscore character _ anywhere in the phrase and Google will fill in the blank. You will need to END on the underscore character for that method. If you don’t see the full dropdown menu with all the keywords, try using an Incognito tab.

Google-Autocomplete-Fill-In-The-Blank-1

Try using different variations, like plurals

Google-Autocomplete-Plural-Keywords

Or different word ordering

Google Autocomplete Keyword Ordering

Autocomplete works with most search engines including YouTube for video SEO

Video Keywords

Autocomplete Tips

  • Choose specific (long-tail) phrases which are less competitive
  • No need to include “best” and other non-descriptive adjectives
  • Synonyms can be targeted on the same page (as secondary keywords)
  • Most businesses have multiple keywords per service (I have WordPress SEO Services, WordPress SEO Consulting, WordPress SEO Audit… all of which are different enough that I have a separate page for each and I’m ranked in the top 3 for all them… it works)
  • Being more specific can mean choosing Chicago WordPress Designer (instead of Chicago Web Designer) or WordPress SEO Consultant (instead of SEO Consultant)… targeting a geography or a specific type of ‘web design’ is one way to get more specific

 

1.5. Moz Keyword Explorer

To make sure you don’t miss keywords, use Moz Keyword Explorer. This is similar to Keyword Planner only it’s completely free (you don’t have to sign up for AdWords) plus you can group related keywords so you’re not browsing through the same ones. Start with a broad keyword.

Moz Keyword Explorer

Click on keyword suggestions –> see all suggestions.

Moz Keyword Suggestions

Moz Keyword Explorer Tips

  • Group related keywords with low lexical similarity (use filter)
  • Start with a broad phrase, then look for specific, long-tail phrases

How Many Searches Should My Keywords Have?

Step 1: Check your domain authority in Moz Link Explorer.
Domain Authority

Step 2: Use this handy chart by Orbit Media.
Keyword Research Shortcut

But Can I Target More?
If you plan on creating strong content (ideally with 3,000+ words and lots of graphics/videos), you can target keywords with more monthly searches (my WordPress SEO tutorial will help as it has over 100 tips including 20 on content optimization). Use the chart as a general guideline.

 

1.6. HubShout WebGrader (Competitor Keywords)

HubShout WebGrader shows you:

  • All keywords you (and competitors) rank for
  • Each website’s estimated traffic value based on CPC
  • Top ranked content, domain authority, backlinks, and referring domains

HubShout WebGrader Report

See a full list of keywords you (and competitors rank for)…

My Keywords

 

Google Trends tells you whether a keyword is on the rise, or declining. It also filters for finding local keywords and YouTube keywords. This is especially helpful for finding what seasons are busiest, whether your market is declining, and where people are searching these keywords.

Ramen is on the rise!

Google Trends Keywords

Better publish that YouTube tutorial on gift wrapping before December :)

YouTube Keywords – Google Trends

 

1.8. Search Analytics

The Search Analytics feature in Google Search Console (which you can verify with Yoast) tells you your keywords, ranking position, CTR (click-through rate), top ranked pages, and the countries + devices of visitors. I hardly use Google Analytics for SEO – I use Search Analytics.

Cool Trick: find queries (keywords) where you already rank in the first 5 spots in Google, then improve those pages so you can get in the top 1-3 where all the traffic is.

Google Search Console Queries

 

1.9. Avoid Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is designed specifically for AdWords – don’t use it for SEO! The competition is not for organic results. Google Autocomplete, or keyword tools that pull keywords from Autocomplete (like Answer The Public) are better at categorizing keywords and showing you the organic competition. And for the record, no keyword tool is better at estimating a keyword’s competition than Googling the keyword yourself, and analyzing the top results to see what content is already out there – so you know what/who you’re up against.

Google Keyword Planner

 

2. Types Of Keywords

The following sections break down keywords into specific types.

 

2.1. Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are easier to rank for and usually have 3-7+ words in the phrase. They also attract a more targeted visitor. You can even target Chicago WordPress Design instead of Chicago Web Design since that is a more specific type of web design. As you saw in the chart by Orbit Media in section 1.5, websites with low domain authority (DA) should almost always target longer-tail keywords. As you build your DA, you can start targeting broader keywords.

Long-Tail Keywords

Examples Of When To Get More Specific

  • Chicago Painter is competitive, Chicago Interior Painter is better
  • Chicago Real Estate is competitive, Chicago Commercial Real Estate is better
  • Chicago Computer Repair is competitive, Chicago Macbook Pro Repair is better
  • Yoast SEO Plugin is competitive, Yoast SEO Plugin Settings is better
  • SEO Consultant is competitive, WordPress SEO Consultant is better
  • SiteGround Review is competitive, SiteGround WordPress Hosting Review is better

 

2.2. Date Keywords

Drive even more traffic by targeting date keywords (mainly for time sensitive content)…

Time Sensitive Keywords

When optimizing content, you should include the date (year) in your page title, SEO title, and meta description. Of course this requires me to keep the tutorial up to date, but this has already driven quite a bit of extra traffic during 2017 as I’m included as a featured snippet.

Dates In SEO Titles

 

2.3. Local Keywords (Small Town vs. Large City vs. National)

The larger the area, the more specific your keywords will be, and the more you will have. Smaller towns will have broad keywords while larger cities will have more specific phrases…

Local Keywords

Unless you’re targeting a small town and have 1 primary keyword like “Lake Forest Divorce Lawyer” you probably have other keywords you can target (find them using keyword tools).

Small towns have a small number of broad keywords…

Small Town Keywords

Large cities tend to have multiple specific keywords…

Large City Keywords

National keywords are even more specific, and there’s more of them…

National Keywords

Don’t forget to use Google Trends to see local keywords and their popularity…

Local Keywords – Google Trends

Multiple Locationseach location should have it’s own page (sometimes multiple pages) depending on whether multiple keywords are being searched in each area. Each location should also have it’s own citations (online directories like Google My Business, Facebook Page, Yelp, Bing Places…) which is exactly what my WordPress local SEO guide walks you through.

 

3.4. Blog Post Keywords

Post-Focus-Keywords

Getting traffic to your blog is fine and dandy, but how does this get you clients?

Here’s what I did…

I offer WordPress speed optimization as part of my SEO services. I wanted more of these projects so I learned what phrases people Google when they have a slow WordPress site. I looked at Google Autocomplete for “slow WordPress…” and saw some results. Then I really put myself in my searcher’s position when I Googled “why is wordpress” and saw it completed the phrase with “why is wordpress so slow” with that keyword on top. There are plenty of variations below it in Autocomplete, indicating that keyword has a good amount of searches. It’s also within my competition if you Google the keyword using MozBar. We have a winner!

And so my blog post was born: Why Is WordPress Slow (And 7 Ways To Fix It)

People read my guide, realize they don’t have the technical skill to do everything, and some inquire. Completely coincidental that this happened while I was writing this post (seriously, I haven’t gotten one of these for weeks) but I literally just got this comment 3 hours ago:

Inquiry

Update (2018): That guide is now one of the most popular tutorials on my website!

 

2.5. Multiple Keywords (Synonyms)

All you have to do is research a synonym of your primary keyword then incorporate both of these in your page title, SEO title, and meta description. This is by FAR the most important part but you can also sprinkle your secondary keyword 1-2 times in your content. You do NOT have to incorporate both as full keywords (exact matches) otherwise your headline will look spammy. Crafting a headline that sounds nice AND includes partial matches is the way to go.

Here’s an example:

Step 1: Research your primary keyword…

Secondary Keywords

Step 2: Research your secondary keyword…

Secondary Focus Keyword
Step 3: Write a headline that incorporates both and still sounds nice…

Headline

Step 4: Rank for both keywords…

focus-keyword-1

focus-keyword-2

You can use the same strategy in your meta description and (sparingly) in the content body.

 

3. Content Optimization

Now that you have your Yoast focus keywords, you can start optimizing content! Including your keyword in “all the right places” is just 1 small part of it, you should really read the content optimization section of my WordPress SEO guide. I promise you will learn a lot.

 

Remember: Only Target 1 Keyword Per Page (Unless Synonyms)

Only synonyms can be targeted on the same page. This is because Google wants to show the most relevant results so keywords that mean 2 different things should have their own page.

Single Keywords

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚦 How do you find good focus keywords?

The best keywords have a balance between monthly searches, low competition, and high profitability. You can usually only pick two. For example, if a highly profitable keyword doesn't have a lot of searches but has low competition, go for it.

🚦 How do I learn how competitive a keyword is?

Google the keyword and look at the top results. Do they do a good job at covering the topic? Is it from an authority website? Do they have high domain + page authority (you can check this in MozBar's Chrome Extension)? If yes, that keyword may be too competitive.

🚦 What are the best keyword research tools?

My top 4 keyword research tools are Google Autocomplete, MozBar Chrome extension (for checking competition using each search result's domain and page authority), HubShout WebGrader (for finding competitor keywords), and Keywords Everywhere to learn a keyword's monthly searches and estimated competition.

🚦 How do I learn how many searches a keyword has?

Keywords Everywhere and Ahrefs tell you how many monthly searches a keyword has.

🚦 Should I target broad or specific (long-tail) keywords?

I recommended targeting specific, long-tail keywords 95% of the time. They are much less competitive and bring a more targeted visitor to your site. New websites, or those having trouble with SEO, should always start by targeting specific, long-tail keywords.

🚦 How do I target multiple keywords (synonyms)?

Find 2 keywords that are very similar. These can be synonyms or even date keywords that include the current year if it's a time-sensitive topic. Use the primary keyword in your page title, URL, SEO title, meta description, and a couple times in the content. The secondary keyword should be sprinkled in these areas as a partial match - it does not have to be an exact match!

🚦 What about Google Keyword Planner?

Do not use Google Keyword Planner to research SEO keywords. It's designed specifically for AdWords and the competition is also reflected in Adwords, not organic search results.

See also: My Definitive Guide To Yoast SEO

If you found this post helpful, please share – I would appreciate it. And if you have any questions about Yoast focus keywords or Yoast in general, drop me a line in the comments.

Cheers,
Tom

The Ideal Yoast WordPress SEO Settings: A Complete Guide To Optimizing WordPress With Yoast’s Plugin (Updated 2019, V.11.7.0)

Everyone has Yoast, but few use it correctly.

No worries. This tutorial breaks it down into 3 key steps: configuring the Yoast SEO settings (including adding AMP Pages to make mobile pages load faster), researching long-tail focus keywords, and optimizing content (there’s more to it than green lights). I will also show you how to connect Yoast to Google Search Console so you can fix crawl errors (broken pages).

This is a COMPLETE guide to Yoast. If you don’t have Yoast go to plugins → add new → search Yoast SEO → install/activate. If you already have Yoast, make sure it’s updated to the latest version. Leave a comment if you have questions and if you like this tutorial, check out my other guides like my WordPress SEO and WordPress speed guide which are both ridiculously good.

Yoast-SEO-Settings

yoast in wp dashboard

 

Important Things To Know Before Using Yoast

People waste too much time trying to get green lights and not enough time on keyword research (or making their content better than whoever’s in the top results). Before you start, read these tips to avoid wasting your time which is seriously a big issue when people use Yoast.

  • Do not obsess over green lights – check out Backlinko’s on-page SEO infographic
  • Do not blindly select keywords – look for long-tail (3+ word phrases) in Google Autocomplete, then Google it to see whether top results cover the topic extensively
  • Do not stuff keywords in your content to try and get your lights green (this is spammy)
  • Good on-page SEO means creating comprehensive content (3,000+ words, videos, etc)
  • The most important place to use your focus keyword is the page title, URL, SEO title, meta description, and once in the first couple sentences of the content body. That’s it!
  • Yoast (and all SEO plugins) do very little for on-page SEO – most of it is advice. Spend more time on keyword research, and add an HTML table of contents to longer posts.

Version 14.2 and Counting

Though not one of its biggest releases to date, Yoast continues to push out bug fixes and enhancements to their popular SEO plugin: Yoast SEO. In fact, one of the biggest fixes made with this update had to do with breadcrumbs that were saving in reverse order (yikes!). It also changed how the plugin checks for previously used focus keywords, making it more efficient for publishers.

1. General

Dashboard
general yoast dashboard tab

Features
general yoast features tab

Below is a screenshot of each feature:
I disabled a few of them… I don’t use the Readability Analysis since I don’t need Yoast “grading” my content (eg. whether my sentences are too long). I use internal links naturally in my content and don’t need Yoast’s Text Link Counter reminding me to add them. I don’t need Ryte to constantly check whether my site is indexed in search engines (it obviously is), and I never use Yoast’s Admin Dropdown Menu. See what features you like, enable them, and disable the rest.

SEO Analysis
Yoast SEO Analysis

Readability Analysis
Yoast Readability Analysis

Cornerstone Content
Yoast-Cornerstone-Content

Cornerstone-Content-Filter

Text Link Counter
Yoast-Text-Link-Counter-Feature

Insights
Yoast Content Insights

Link Suggestions
Yoast-Internal-Linking

XML Sitemaps
Yoast-XML-Sitemap-Setting

Ryte Integration
Yoast-Ryte-Analysis

Admin Bar Menu
add menu to wordpress dashboard

Security: No Advanced Settings For Authors
Yoast-Advanced-Settings

Webmaster Tools
Next, we’ll sign up for each Webmaster Tools (Google/Bing/Yandex/Baidu) and verify each one using the HTML verification method. Then we can can submit your Yoast XML sitemap to them. I personally use Google Search Console religiously to fix broken pages (crawl errors) with redirects, use Search Analytics to find keywords/pages I rank for, HTML improvements to fix errors in SEO titles + meta descriptions, and monitor mobile/security issues as well as links to my site. Here’s my complete Google Search Console tutorial which I would definitely skim.

Yoast-Webmaster-Tools

Verify Webmaster Tools

Submit Your Yoast XML Sitemap To Google + Bing + Yandex

  • In Yoast, go to General → Features → XML Sitemaps
  • Click the question mark icon by the XML Sitemaps option
  • Click your XML Sitemap link
  • Copy the last past of the URL: /sitemap_index.xml
  • Login to Google Search Console
  • On the left, go to Crawl → Sitemaps
  • Paste the last part of your sitemap URL into Google Search Console
  • Test and submit
  • Repeat for Bing + Yandex

Yoast-XML-Sitemap-Setting

Yoast Sitemap

 

2. Search Appearance

General
Yoast-General-Settings

Title Separator – when using snippet variables, this is the dash (or other special character) that is usually between your page/post title and site name. Example: Page Title Site Name.

Snippet Variables – templates used for SEO titles/meta descriptions only IF you forget to write them, which you should never forget to do. So as long as you’re writing these manually, they don’t matter. You should take the time to write them so they sound nicer than a template.

Yoast Basic Variables

Why you shouldn’t use them…

The title of this post you’re reading is 160+ characters long (well over the 60 character limit for SEO titles). If I relied on Yoast to create my SEO title using snippet variables, it would be longer than 60 characters and get cut off, making my snippet look horrible. Instead, I wrote it myself so it reads nicely: The Ideal Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin Settings (2018, Version 7.9).

Yoast-Snippet-Variables

Homepage – the homepage usually targets a broad keyword about your main product/service (eg. Chicago Wedding Photographer). Use this in your homepage SEO title + meta description:

Homepage-Snippet

Content Types
content types - posts

content types - pages

Show Posts In Search Results – control whether posts/pages are indexed in search engines.

Date In Snippet Preview – adding dates to your snippets (specifically adding them on time sensitive articles) makes content look new and can significantly increase click-through rates.

Publish Date

In addition to enabling this in Yoast, you also need to add the “post modified date” to the top of your posts (called the entry meta section). For me, this is in the Genesis Simple Edits settings…

Entry Meta

This is what it looks like on a post…

Entry Post Modified Date

Now, anytime you update a post, the post modified date refreshes to current day and will update in search results. Yes, you can go through ALL posts and make your content look brand new. But don’t abuse it, I try to only do it when I’m making an update to a time sensitive article.

Update WordPress Post

Yoast SEO Meta Box – this is the SEO analysis with content optimization recommendations. You definitely want this for pages, posts, and blog category pages if you’re optimizing those.

Media
Yoast-Media-Settings

Taxonomies
Yoast-Taxonomies-Settings

Which Content Shouldn’t Be Shown In Search Results – tags, portfolio categories, slideshows, format, and other non-useful content should usually not be shown in search results. Tags will usually cause duplicate content in Siteliner. If you have a nice portfolio, or your blog categories pages are well-designed with many articles under that category, by all means include it in search results. But if you wouldn’t spend more than 30 seconds on that page, don’t index it.

Archives
Yoast-Archives-Settings

Breadcrumbs
Yoast-Breadcrumbs-Settings

Breadcrumbs – navigation text that appears at the top of your content:

Breadcrumbs

It helps users and search engines learn your content and site structure. I don’t use breadcrumbs to prevent clutter, but I recommend them if you don’t mind the extra text. To enable breadcrumbs, add this code to Editor → Index.php by pasting it under get_header();

get_header(); ?>
<div id="primary">
<?php if ( function_exists('yoast_breadcrumb') ) {
yoast_breadcrumb('<p id="breadcrumbs">','</p>');
} ?>
<div id="content" role="main">

RSS
Yoast-RSS-Settings

 

3. Search Console

Authenticate Yoast With Google Search Console – this will show you crawl errors (broken pages on your site) so you can redirect them to the correct page on your site. You might have a lot of these if you ever changed permalinks, deleted pages, or migrated your website. You will need to verify Search Console under ‘General → Webmaster Tools’ before proceeding. Once verified, go here and click “Get Google Authorization Code” and it will prompt you with steps.

google search console authentication

Fix Crawl Errors With Redirects – after authenticating Search Console, give it a few minutes (or hours) so Google can populate your crawl errors. You will eventually see the errors (page not found, server errors, soft 404s…).

You should fix ALL these by setting up 301 redirects which come with Yoast SEO Premium, or try using the free Redirection plugin…

yoast-search-console-crawl-errors

Setup Redirects – to setup a 301 redirect using the Redirection plugin, install the plugin and go to Tools → Redirection (in the WordPress dashboard). Enter a URL from Yoast, then enter the correct URL (the most relevant page or post on your website)…

redirection example

More Google Search Console Optimizations – fixing crawl errors is just one of many ways to optimize your WordPress site with Google Search Console. I HIGHLY recommend looking through my Google Search Console tutorial to learn about rich snippets, international targeting, security issues, search analytics, and other important parts of your WordPress SEO.

Google Search Console

 

4. Social

Filling out Yoast’s social settings helps Google learn about your profiles, but the main thing is enabling each social network’s meta data. This allows you to upload custom graphics to each page/post which makes it’s image thumbnail format properly when that page is shared on social media. This is what Facebook Open GraphTwitter Cards, and Google+ meta data does.

Accounts
social profiles

Facebook
Yoast-Facebook-Settings

Facebook App ID – if you created a Facebook app, find your app ID and enter it here. Here’s a tutorial on how to create a Facebook app and what it does.

Twitter
Yoast-Twitter-Settings

Pinterest
pinterest-settings

You will need to complete a few additional steps to verify your site with Pinterest.

Social Media Optimization – once meta data is enabled for each social network, you can upload custom social media images in Yoast’s SEO analysis section using the “share” link (see below). This makes the content’s image thumbnail format properly when that page is shared on social media. Yes, this means you will need to create 2 separate graphics for every post.

  • Facebook Image: 1200 x 630px
  • Twitter Image: 1024 x 512px

Upload custom graphics to Facebook/Twitter…

yoast-social-media-optimization

Makes your content format nicely…

facebook-share

Controlling Facebook Ad Text With Yoast – if you’re boosting posts, Facebook won’t let you change the ad text. So before sharing your post on Facebook, give it the title you want using Yoast’s “Facebook Title” field (which can be different from the SEO title + meta description). If your Yoast Facebook title isn’t working right away, trying clearing your website’s cache. I have found it can sometimes take several days for it to update with new Facebook title and image.

Yoast Facebook Title

 

5. Tools

yoast seo tools

Bulk Editor – edit SEO titles and meta descriptions in bulk (without having to go through each individual page/post). Making sure these ready nicely can significantly increase click-through rates by making your snippets more appealing to click on. Don’t forget to include that post’s focus keyword in both places. SNIPPETS ARE LITERALLY THE FOREFRONT OF YOUR SEO!

Yoast-Bulk-Editor

File Editor – edit robots.txt and .htaccess files.

Import And Exportimport my recommended Yoast SEO settings or export your own Yoast settings to use on other websites you manage. If you’re currently using another WordPress SEO Plugin, use the “Import From Other SEO Plugins” tab to migrate it’s SEO data to Yoast.

import yoast settings

export yoast settings

import and export other data in yoast

 

6. Premium

Yoast SEO Premium is $89/year – I seriously only bought it because I write WordPress SEO tutorials for a living. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have it… setting multiple focus keywords isn’t useful, there are plenty of free redirect plugins, and internal link suggestions + content insights really don’t help me at all. Here’s an explanation of some of the highlighted features…

yoast pro versus free.1

yoast pro versus free.2

yoast pro versus free.3

Keyword Optimization (Multiple Focus Keywords) – there is a specific strategy for optimizing content for multiple keywords (see below). Secondary keywords are often included as partial matches which means the SEO analysis checklist is virtually useless, since Yoast only detects exact keyword matches. It does help you keep track of secondary keywords in your dashboard so you can use those partial matches, but don’t expect to get a lot of green lights. Targeting secondary keywords is more about crafting a nice SEO title + meta description to include individual words from both phrases – rather than simply listing keywords which looks spammy.

Yoast Multiple Focus Keywords

Preview Of Your Page – as long as you’re uploading custom images in Yoast’s “social sharing option” so your image formats properly Facebook and Twitter (step 4), you don’t need this. But if you like seeing how it looks directly in Yoast to make sure it looks good, that’s all this does.

yoast-social-previews

Link Suggestions
Yoast-Internal-Linking

Content Insights
Yoast Content Insights

Redirect Manager – use this to fix crawl errors (broken pages) from Yoast’s Search Console tab. Do this by add the old URL and new URL to redirect each one to the most appropriate page. If you already have redirects from the Redirection Plugin or .htaccess, you can import these into Yoast. While a free plugin like Quick Page/Post Redirect does the exact same thing, Yoast’s redirect manager will automatically setup a redirect if you ever change a permalink…

yoast-automatic-redirect

To setup a redirect, head to Yoast’s Search Console tab and find your crawl errors…

Yoast-Search-Console-Crawl-Errors

Now head to Yoast’s redirect manager (or the “Quick Redirects” section if using the Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin). Paste your broken URL into the “Old URL” field. The new URL should NOT always be your homepage – it should be the closest URL to your broken page.

Yoast-Redirects

Premium Support – I have never used their support, but you do get it with Yoast Premium.

 

7. AMP

Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are a Google project that make mobile pages load faster and adds an “AMP” sign to your mobile snippets. While this sounds good, you should usually avoid AMP. Take a look at Kinsta’s study on how mobile conversions dropped 59% after adding AMP. After reading that article, I decided to disable AMP on my own website (and I’m glad I did). The design isn’t nearly as nice and it’s a pain in the ass. Save yourself the trouble – I would avoid it.

amp-pages

AMP Instructions

  • Install the AMP Plugin by Automattic
  • Install the Glue For Yoast SEO AMP Plugin if using Yoast
  • Add /amp/ to any page on your website to see how it looks and make sure it works
  • Go to Yoast’s Settings → AMP to change your design and enable custom post types
  • Wait for Google to recrawl your site and add the AMP sign in mobile search results
  • Visit the Accelerated Mobile Pages section in Google Search Console to see errors

A common issue is featured images appearing on the top of posts when you might not want them too. There is a work around for this, but it’s not perfect. You can either have no featured image, or you can set a default featured image in Yoast under SEO → AMP → Design → Default Image. This will only show if NO featured image is set, but if one is, that is what will show on the top of the post. You can read Yoast’s AMP guide but I basically just summed it up.

If using Cloudflare, enable accelerated mobile links and show the AMP logo…

Cloudflare Accelerated Mobile Links

 

8. Import My Yoast Settings

To use my Yoast settings, download the zip file and upload it under SEO → Tools → Import And Export → Import. This configures the settings, it does not delete focus keywords or meta data.

Download My Yoast Settings (Updated 3/9/2018)

Things You Still Need To Do:

  • General → Webmaster Tools (verify your site with Google/Bing/Yandex)
  • Search Appearance → General (check if you have duplicate sitenames by hovering over your homepage’s browser tab, and if so, leave Force Rewrite Titles as enabled)
  • Search Appearance → General (fill out your homepage SEO title + meta description, and specify whether you’re a person or company)
  • Search Appearance → Content Types (choose which content you want shown in search results, and add publish dates to snippets on time-sensitive posts)
  • Search Appearance → Taxonomies (choose which content you want in search results)
  • Search Appearance → Breadcrumbs (add your website name as the “Anchor Text For Homepage” and follow Yoast’s tutorial to add breadcrumbs)
  • Search Console → Settings (authenticate Yoast with Google Search Console, wait a few days for the data to populate, then fix crawl errors (visit section). See my Google Search Console tutorial for even more tips on optimizing your website with Search Console)
  • Social → Enter URLs of your social profiles, upload your logo in the Facebook tab, enable Facebook Insights, and verify your site with Pinterest
  • Add AMP Pages (visit section)

 

9. Focus Keywords

Stop thinking you know your keywords and do the research. My method works quite well…

  • Find long-tail (specific) keywords in Autocomplete + Keyword Explorer
  • Write down all relevant phrases so you have a robust keyword list
  • Avoid keywords where strong content/websites are in the top results
  • Target keywords where search results contain weak/irrelevant content
  • Google each keyword using MozBar to learn each one’s estimated competition
  • Check OSE for your DA (domain authority), then Google your keyword using MozBar and check the top results to see what their DA is. Compete within your own DA range and if yours is low, target even more specific keywords which are less competitive.
  • You should be left with high opportunity keywords where you can get on page 1

Google Autocomplete
Go to google.com and start typing in a keyword to have Google complete the phrase (remember, you’re looking for long-tail phrases usually with 3+ words since those are much less competitive). You can also use an underscore character _ anywhere in the phrase and Google will fill in the blank. You will need to END on the underscore character for that method.

google-autocomplete-keywords

To see even more keywords in the dropdown, use plurals or different word ordering…

autocomplete-keywords

Each service (and location) should be targeted on separate pages on your website…

multiple-localized-keywords

For competitive blog post topics, always select a very specific (long-tail) keyword…

Long-Tail Keywords

You can do the same thing for YouTube video keywords…

youtube-autocomplete-keywords

How I found my keyword for this tutorial (which helped me optimize my content)…

Yoast-Keyword-Research

Yoast-Keyword

Moz Keyword Explorer (Better Than Keyword Planner)
To make sure you don’t miss any keywords from Google Autocomplete, use Moz Keyword Explorer which is like Google Keyword Planner only better (and free). Start with a broad phrase, run the tool, then under Group Keywords select “yes, with low lexical similarity.” This prevents you from having to scroll through similar keyword variations over and over again.

Moz Keyword Suggestions

HubShout WebGrader (Competitor Keywords)
To see a full keyword list for competitor websites, run them through HubShout WebGrader

My Keywords

MozBar (Keyword Competition)
Now you should have a robust keyword list. The final step is to install the MozBar Google Chrome Extension and Google each keyword. The higher the PA (page authority) and DA (domain authority), the more competitive the keyword. Try to select keywords within your own DA/PA range. You can increase these by creating awesome content to get links. The best keywords are those that if you Google, weak (or irrelevant) content exists in the top results.

Mozbar Keyword Competition

It’s a little outdated, but here’s a video I made on choosing keywords…

 

10. Content Optimization

The first step to optimizing content is researching focus keywords – make sure you do step 9 first. Then you can start creating content (or optimizing existing content) for those keywords.

What Yoast should say…

WARNING: injecting keywords in your content/snippets makes them look spammy! Have you thought about writing an SEO title + meta description to increase CTR? Every result in Google will be using the keyword – why would anyone click your link? Yes, you should use your keyword in the page title, SEO title, and meta description… but don’t inject keywords just to get green lights in Yoast. Forget about keyword density and keywords in subheadings… start thinking about adding a table of contents to longer posts, videos, infographics, rich snippets, social sharing images, and beefing up thin content to make it better (more detailed) than everyone else’s.

Basic Rules Of Yoast:
The green light obsession – if you’re copying/pasting focus keywords throughout your content to make Yoast happy, stop it right now. This article you’re reading is well optimized (it’s super useful and organized) and half my bullets are red. Stop obsessing over green lights and start obsessing over your content. Add an infographic and video to a page and see what happens.

You can only set 1 focus keyword – Yoast premium allows up to 5, but if you don’t have success with 1 keyword then don’t try 2. However it’s not that hard (just make sure the secondary keyword is very similar to your primary) and sprinkle partial matches throughout the content. Generally, each unique keyword should have it’s own page with content reflecting that phrase. Each of your services will have it’s own page – sometimes multiple pages. I have separates pages for WordPress SEO Services, WordPress SEO Consulting, WordPress SEO Audit, etc.

Yoast doesn’t always detect keywords – sometimes it won’t pick up on synonyms or partial matches. If my focus keyword is SEO Consultant and I use SEO Consulting in the content, Yoast may not count this keyword. But I can assume keyword density is higher than Yoast says.

Find a balance between keywords and using a nice page title, SEO title, and meta description – there’s a fine line between writing a headline that sounds good, and writing a headline so it includes your keyword. Find the right balance. Crafting a headline that people will actually click on is a huge part of content optimization.

Yoast only detects keywords in the main content body and search engine snippet – not the sidebars, not the footer, just those two areas. This is also good since search engines analyze content in blocks and your content body/search engine snippets are the important areas.

Focus keyword for homepage – your homepage should usually target your primary keyword. If you have a widgetized homepage you won’t have Yoast’s SEO analysis checklist (since you’re using widgets). But that’s OK, just use the same on-page SEO strategies as the other pages.

You usually do want to target a focus keyword for these pages…

  • Homepage
  • Product/service pages
  • Location pages
  • Blog posts (non-promotional keywords)

You usually don’t want to target a focus keyword for these pages…

  • Contact page
  • Team pages (unless their names are being searched for)
  • Testimonials
  • Work/portfolio
  • Main blog page

Now create a page, set your focus keyword, write some content, and see my suggestions…

Yoast-SEO-Analysis

Focus Keyword – use Google Autocomplete to find long-tail (specific) phrases, then Google the keyword and analyze the search results with MozBar’s Chrome Extension. Look for keywords with weak content in the top results and avoid competing with authority websites.

Never Target The Same Keyword On 2 Pages – if you’re going to spend time creating 2 pages targeting the same keyword, you might as well spend all that time on 1 page and make the content awesome. I would rather have 1 amazing piece of content than 2 mediocre articles.

Page Title – include your keyword here. If it’s a blog post make sure you write a kick-ass headline preferably with your focus keyword in the beginning of the title. Posts usually have a longer, more descriptive title, page titles are usually shorter and just list a product/service.

URL – shorten URLs to not include stop words (and put emphasis on your focus keyword) UNLESS this makes the URL ready funny. I shortened mine to /yoast-wordpress-seo-settings/

SEO Title – these are the blue links in search results and are the FIRST thing people see. They should be 50-60 characters (length bar in Yoast should be green). If it’s a page, don’t just use “Chicago Wedding Photographer – Tom Dupuis.” Use a modifier to spice up your headline so more people click on it… “Award Winning Chicago Wedding Photographer – Tom Dupuis.” SEO titles for posts can be similar to the title, but adjust it to read nicely in those 50-60 characters.

Meta Description – 150-160 character description of your content, primarily used to increase CTR and get people clicking your link, but should also include your focus keyword.

Image Alt Text – do not stuff keywords here, just describe the image! As long as you’re writing descriptive file names before uploading, you can use the Automatic Image Alt Attributes plugin to automatically use the file name as the alt text, so you don’t have to do this manually.

Keyword Density – Yoast exaggerates the importance of keyword density when it’s actually not very important. Use it once in the first couple sentences, then forget about it.

Keyword In Subheading (H2) – you don’t need to use your keyword here – it looks spammy.

Internal / External Links – use a few links on your page. Google likes this and as long as you’re actually linking to helpful resources (I’m not talking about Wikipedia), then visitors will also find this helpful. Internal links are good because they keep people on your site and are a natural way to build links, but you will need a good amount of content for this. External links are good because they’re like citing sources for the article, which Google likes. Both are good.

Post Long Content – short, crappy content doesn’t rank. Long content that covers the topic extensively (especially content that includes a video or infographic), will. Google measures “average time on page” so your primary goal is to increase the “dwell time” of your visitor. Yoast recommends 300+ words, but try 3,000 words (or more) and you will see way better results.

WordPress Word Count

Social Media Optimization – assuming you configured the social tab in Yoast’s SEO settings, you can use the “share” link to upload custom graphics so your post image formats properly on Facebook and Twitter. This is a small ranking factor but it will also increase your social sharing which is excellent for SEO. And yes, this means you need to create 2 graphics…

  • Facebook Image: 1200 x 630px
  • Twitter Image: 1024 x 512px

Rich Snippets – these enhance your snippets with review stars, videos, and information about products, events, recipes, and other types of data. This isn’t part of Yoast but it obviously helps your SEO and click-through rates. I use the premium WP Rich Snippets plugin (here’s my review of it) which has way more options and looks better than free plugins like All In One Schema.org. If you would like to add rich snippets to your WordPress site, follow that tutorial.

rich-snippets

Image Speed Optimization – I have a full tutorial for image optimization. Run a page through GTmetrix to see all unoptimized images on the page. Large images need to be resized to fit the correct dimensions. If your content body is 680(w) you should be using images that are resized to 680(w). Use a plugin like Imagify for lossless compression. Images with the “specify image dimensions” error means you need to specify a width + height in the image’s HTML or CSS:

<img src=”/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Why-Is-WordPress-So-Slow.jpg” alt=”Why Is WordPress So Slow” width=”680” height=”380” />

Image Optimizations In GTmetrix

Targeting Multiple Keywords – I touched on this in the Yoast SEO Premium section, but here’s an example. You’ll want to craft your SEO title/meta description to include elements of both…

Primary Keyword: SEO-Friendly WordPress Themes
Secondary Keyword: SEO-Optimized WordPress Themes

Page Title / SEO Title: 25+ SEO-Friendly WordPress Themes For Everyone
Meta Description: Browse over 25+ SEO-Friendly WordPress Themes which have mobile responsive and HTML5 design, all of which are SEO optimized via the Genesis Framework.

Now sprinkle your secondary keyword (or a partial match of it) in your content. Your permalink should usually just include your primary keyword: /seo-friendly-wordpress-themes/. You do not need to purchase Yoast SEO Premium to target secondary keywords – just use tools like Google Autocomplete to find a secondary keyword, then sprinkle it.

 

11. Anatomy Of A Perfectly Optimized Page

I borrowed this from Backlinko which emphasizes why content optimization is more than “green lights.” It’s more about creating damn good content using infographics, videos, and creating “the ultimate guide” with a table of contents (like this post). Stop worrying so much about green lights, get off the “text and photos” route and start doing something different.

on-page-seo

I also created a version for WordPress (a little outdated but still good)…

WordPress-Content-Optimization

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚦 What are the 3 main steps to Yoast?

Configuring the settings, researching focus keywords, and content optimization are the 3 main steps to using Yoast's SEO plugin. Setting up Google Search Console is important too.

🚦 How do I choose focus keywords?

Google Autocomplete is a great tool for finding keywords, especially when using the fill-in-the-blank method from this guide. MozBar and Keywords Everywhere Chrome Extension helps you learn each keyword's competition - which is a critical part to keyword research.

🚦 How important are green lights?

They're not. The 5 most important places to use your keyword are in the page title, permalink, SEO title, meta description, and a couple times in the content body. Nearly all other ranking factors have nothing to do with Yoast, regardless of what other people say.

🚦 What other on-page SEO factors are there besides green lights?

FAQ rich snippets (like the ones you're reading now), adding an HTML table of contents to long posts, optimizing site speed, carefully crafting SEO titles + meta descriptions, and in-depth content are all major factors that can improve both rankings + click-through rates.

🚦 How did I get these emojis in search results?

They're called FAQ rich snippets and I have a tutorial for that. You simply install the Structured Content plugin and add FAQs (with the emoji of your choice) to pages/posts.

 

Whaddaya Think?

Hit me up in the comments if you have questions :)

See Also:
How I Got 100% Scores In GTmetrix

Cheers,
Tom

Local SEO For WordPress: How To Optimize Your Website (And Citations) To Rank Higher In Google Maps & Local Search Results

Ready to rank higher in Google Maps and local search results?

We’ll follow Google’s local search ranking factors which Moz reports every 2 years. I broke these down into factors on and off your WordPress site. Citations (online directories like Yelp, Superpages, and Axciom) are about 11% of local SEO, so it wouldn’t be fair to leave these out.

This guide assumes you’re using the Yoast SEO Plugin. If you don’t have Yoast, I suggest installing it then configuring my recommended Yoast settings. It also assumes you have a physical address in your targeted city which is not mandatory, but is the #1 factor in Maps.

 

1. Local Search Ranking Factors

Here are Google’s 2018 local ranking factors. The main factors are Google My Business, citations (directories), reviews, geo-targeted pages, mobile optimization, and of course – links.

2018 Local Search Ranking Factors

Top 50 factors for local pack and localized organic…

Top 50 Local SEO Factors

Google your primary local keywords and see which results you want to target…

Local-Search-Results

 

2. Localized Keywords

Google Autocomplete
I have a separate tutorial on choosing Yoast focus keywords + green light optimization but I’ll go over this briefly. Go to google.com and use the underscore character _ anywhere in the phrase to have Google fill-in-the-blank and learn keywords people are searching in your city…

Google-Autocomplete-Fill-In-The-Blank-1

To find even more keywords, try using different variations of the keyword, like plurals

Google-Autocomplete-Plural-Keywords

Use different word ordering to get even more ideas…

Word Ordering Keywords

Target Specific Services – if “Chicago Wedding Photographer” is your primary keyword, try also targeting Indian and Gay Wedding Photographer. Same thing with web design… you can target both Chicago Web Design and Chicago WordPress Design which both show up in Autocomplete. For dentists, you may have Chicago Dentist, Chicago Dental Implants, Chicago Emergency Dentist, etc. Relying on 1 single keyword for ALL your traffic is never a good idea. You need to research Google Autocomplete for all your services, then create a page for each.

Moz Keyword Explorer
Next, use Moz Keyword Explorer to make sure you’re not missing keywords. This is similar to Google Keyword Planner only it’s completely free (you don’t have to sign up for AdWords), plus you can group related keywords so you’re not browsing through the exact same ones.

Moz Keyword Explorer

Once it runs, click keyword suggestions –> see all suggestions. You should see a nice list of keywords and the volume (monthly searches). Note phrases you DIDN’T find in Autocomplete.

Moz Keyword Suggestions

Estimating Local Keyword Competition
More Autocomplete results + broad phrases = more competitive…
Broad-Local-Keyword-Competition

Less Autocomplete results + specific phrases = less competitive…
Specific-Local-Keyword-Competition

You can also use the MozBar Chrome Extension to Google any keyword and learn it’s competition. The higher the PA (page authority) and DA (domain authority), the higher the competition and the more effort needed to rank for it. Try to stay within your own DA range.

Mozbar Keyword Competition

 

3. Blog Post Keywords

Blog posts usually attract the most links to your site (a huge ranking factor) since people naturally link to USEFUL content (not promotional service pages) which benefit the rankings of your entire WordPress site. Just like we researched keywords for pages, find as many informational, non-promotional blog keywords as you can, then write a post for each topic.

Local SEO Keywords
Local SEO Keywords

 

4. Geo-Targeted Pages

Create a page for each keyword – target your primary keyword on your homepage, then create a separate page for Chicago Indian Wedding Photographer and other specific services. Average Cost Of Wedding Photographer In Chicago would be a good article on your blog.

Optimize content with Yoast – you can get green lights all you want, but designing a nice (ideally lengthy) page with awesome photos, testimonials, video and other useful content – is the heart of content optimization. Yoast only detects exact keyword matches so if you use “Wedding Photographer in Chicago” instead of “Chicago Wedding Photographer” in your content… that counts as a keyword. So even if that specific light isn’t green (eg. keyword density), you can ignore it as long as a variation is present. Synonyms are actually encouraged.

Yoast Content Analysis

Presence of NAP – each location page should have your business name, address, and phone somewhere on the page. If you only have 1 location you can add this in a footer widget or your copyright area at the very bottom of your website (like I do) so it’s present on every page. For multiple locations you’ll usually want to add it somewhere in the actual content body.

Short Permalinks  – use short permalinks with your keyword in it.

Keyword Density – include your keyword in the first couple sentences and a few times in your content body (naturally). Sprinkle LSI keywords (synonyms) in your content instead of using the same keyword over and over. These can be secondary keywords you want to rank for.

Alt Text – label your images before uploading them to WordPress since the visual editor automatically uses the image file name as the alt text. This should simply describe the image – don’t stuff keywords. Images in widgets and page builders may not do this so check the HTML:

<img src=”/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/chicago-wedding-photographer.jpg” alt=”Chicago Wedding Photographer” width=”680” height=”380” />

Internal / External Links – Google follows links on your page to learn what your content is about. The important thing is linking to useful content your visitors will actually find helpful (like a blog tutorial). Interlinking blog articles/pages is also a natural way to build links to your own website but outbound links are good too since it’s kind of like citing sources to Google. Finally, always use descriptive link text (called anchor text)… never use words like “click here.”

SEO Title – use a modifier to spice up your headline so more people click on your link in search results… “Award Winning Chicago Wedding Photographer – Tom Dupuis” is a good example. Also make sure your SEO title has a decent length (the bars in Yoast should be green).

Meta Description – the main purpose of the meta description to entice people to click on your link. This and the SEO title are the first thing people see in search results so spend time writing these. It should include your Yoast focus keyword, plus a secondary keyword if you have one.

Post Long Content – Google measures “average time on page” which is why videos and other engaging content is key. Long, organized content generally ranks higher than short content.

Social Media Optimization – this ensures your page will display a properly formatted image when shared on Facebook and Twitter. Click the “share” link in Yoast and upload custom images where it tells you to. If you don’t see the tabs, check your Yoast social settings to enable Facebook and Twitter meta data. Yes, this means you need to design 2 separate images for Facebook (1200 x 630px) and Twitter (1024 x 512px). I leave the other fields blank which let you write a custom headline and description when it’s shared on Facebook/Twitter.

yoast-social-media-optimization

Rich Snippets – make your snippets stand out in search results by adding rich snippets to your content. You can do this with events, reviews, recipes, articles, products, organizations, restaurants, and videos. I use the premium WP Rich Snippets plugin which supports all rich snippet types except for events (use All In One Schema.org) and videos (use Schema plugin. However if you’re doing any other type of rich snippets, WP Rich Snippets looks way better and has more options, plus they have awesome add-ons. Here’s my WP Rich Snippets review which is definitely worth the money if you have content on your site that can be marked up.

Rich Snippets

Example Geo-Targeted Landing Page…

Localized Landing Page

 

5. Google My Business

Optimizing Your Google My Business Page

*Google is increasingly taking into consideration activate business owners who: post on Google Posts, respond to reviews, keep special hours updated, answer questions, make it convenient for customers to take direct actions on GMB using business URLs.

Google My Business Logo

 

6. Moz Local

Since citations are 11% of local SEO, this step will help you create and fix your top 15 citations. Just like you did with Google My Business you will make sure profiles are 100% complete, duplicates are deleted, and ensure consistent information is present. Run your website + zip code through Moz Local and look under “choose the most accurate listing.” Go through each one and see their recommendations. Yes, you will need each profile’s login info.

Moz Local Profiles

Correct Incomplete, Inconsistent, Duplicate Citations
Once you click your listing you will see incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate tabs. Go through each one and fix all items. Incomplete profiles are often fixed by uploading more photos or adding categories. Inconsistencies can be as easy as correcting the www website version or using “st” instead of “street” in the address. Duplicates are fixed by deleting them. Moz Local includes links to your profiles which makes it easy to fix, delete, and report profiles.

Sometimes you will only have 1-2 categories (eg. photographer + wedding photographer) so it’s not always possible to get your profiles 100% complete. Just do everything you can.

Moz Loca

 

7. Whitespark

To conquer those #2, #5, and #14 ranking factors in Google Maps (citation consistency, quantity, and quality), we need to build even more citations. The more competitive your keywords are (eg. Chicago Wedding Photographer) the more citations you should build.

local-seo-citation-ranking-factors
citations-by-city

Whitespark has lists of top citations by city, country, and category, or use their citation building service for $4-5 per citation which saves a LOT of time. Google ‘Whitespark Canada‘ and you’ll see they have over 120 reviews with a 4.9 star rating. I’ve invested over $2,000 in their citation building service and have jumped from #8 to #3 in Google Maps. Read my Whitespark citation building review to learn the process, but you basically fill out an intake then wait 2-3 weeks for them to send a report of the new citation URLs and 1 universal login.

Free citations can cause spam emails and sometimes spammy phone calls. They improve rankings, but it’s a tradeoff. Here’s a response I got from Darren Shaw, owner of Whitespark:

 

8. Mobile Responsiveness

The best way to check for mobile errors is to setup Google Search Console and use the mobile usability section. This checks for ALL errors on your WordPress site (instead of just 1 page) which is only what Google’s mobile testing tool does. Even if you’re using a responsive WordPress theme you can still have mobile errors! So it’s definitely a good idea to check.

google-mobile-usability-errors

 

9. Mobile Speed Optimization

Most businesses doing local SEO have a good amount of mobile visitors (you can check in Google Analytics under Audience –> Mobile –> Overview). If you haven’t read my W3 Total Cache tutorial which shows you how to configure the performance tabs, Cloudflare, and MaxCDN, I would start with that. Then you can optimize images and make other optimizations from my WordPress speed guide. This helps you fix items in your GTmetrix report (the speed testing tool I recommend using) and improves page load times for both desktop and mobile.

To make your WordPress site load faster specifically on mobile, you can use AMP pages (accelerated mobile pages) using the AMP plugin and Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP. You can read Yoast’s AMP tutorial but this will basically add an “AMP” sign to your mobile search results…

amp-pages

Hosting
I use SiteGround and have 200ms response times with 100% GTmetrix scores and .4s Pingdom load times. Do a hosting check, run your own tests, or click through my pages to see how fast they load. They were rated the #1 host in 26 Facebook polls and are worlds better than EIG (Bluehost, HostGator), Godaddy, and bad hosts who pack too many people on the same server. They’re recommended by WordPress, do free migrations, and I use their semi-dedicated plan.

Switching To SiteGround

SiteGround Load Time Migration

Bluehost to SiteGround GTmetrix

HostGator To SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix

SiteGround Google PageSpeed Insights

100 Perfect Score On SiteGround

SiteGround Genesis

Speed Delivered By SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix Report

Reduced Load Times With SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Times

HostGator To SiteGround Migration

SiteGround Response Times On Joomla

Switched To SiteGround Hosting

SiteGround Rocket Imagify Combo

Joomla GTmetrix On SiteGround

SiteGround PageSpeed Insights

SiteGround On Joomla

SiteGround Reduced Load Times

SiteGround Speedy Hosting

New Pingdom Results On SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Time

SiteGround Response Time Improvement

2019 Hosting Poll

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

July 2019 Hosting Recommendation

WordPress-Host-Poll-Aug-2018

Shared-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosting-Poll

Go-To-Hosting-Company

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

Managed-Hosting-Poll

WooCommerce-Hosting-FB-Poll

2016-Web-Hosting-Poll

Best-WordPress-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-2019-Poll

WP Friendly Hosting Poll

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

2018 Hosting Recommendations

WordPress Hosting Poll Sept 2018.png

Managed-WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosts-Poll-1

Hosting-Poll-For-Speed

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-June-1

SiteGround-Recommendation

2014-Managed-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Hosting-Poll-Feb-2019

Hosting-Recommendations-Poll

Bluehost vs SiteGround

WordPress Web Host Poll

 

10. Reviews

You’ve heard this before so I’m not going to state the obvious. But you should know that Google My Business is usually the best place to get reviews since these appear directly in search results, and you need about 5 of them for the review stars to start showing up…

Google Reviews For SEO

Avoiding The Yelp Review Filter – Yelp reviews can get filtered even if they’re legitimate. You can avoid this by doing a Google search of “business name Yelp” and sending them that link. If you send them the direct link to your Yelp profile, Yelp will know and could filter it. Ideally you would ask existing Yelpers since they are more likely to get their review posted (another factor is if their profile is filled out and Facebook is connected). You should friend your reviewers too.

 

You know links are super important for your rankings, and it doesn’t have to be a pain in the ass. But yes, you WILL need to reach out to people to get these links. Here are some tips…

  • Ask partners to link to you
  • Ask sponsors to link to you
  • Ask suppliers to link to you
  • Get published by local newspapers
  • Get included in list articles (eg. best pizza in Chicago)
  • Make sure these articles include a link to your site
  • Find business directories and organizations who promote green businesses
  • Turn your business relationships into links, that’s what it’s all about

 

12. Targeting Multiple Locations

Create Multiple Location Pages On Your Site – sometimes you should create 1 page per city (if only 1 keyword is being search in that city), or multiple pages per city (if multiple keywords are being searched). It depends on how many keywords people search and whether you need content about different services (miami dentist vs. miami dental implants is a separate page).

Add Location-Specific Content To These Pages – your Chicago page might have photos of your Chicago office. Or testimonials from your Chicago customers. Or a Google Map showcasing your Chicago location. Avoid creating ‘search and replace’ pages (identical pages only you simply change the city name) since these are duplicate content and will not rank.

If you want to check out a great example of localized landing pages, check out Seda Dental.

local-landing-pages-multiple-locations

Create Citations For Each Location – each location should have it’s own Google My Business page, Yelp, Facebook, and other citation profiles you can use Moz Local and Whitespark to create (see steps 4, 5, and 6). Whitespark’s citation building service will save you a LOT of time. If you do this yourself, list the specific location page (website.com/locations/chicago) when listing your website. Photos and business information should be unique to that location.

 

13. Measure Keyword Rankings

Google Search Console’s Search Analytics – see keywords (queries) you rank for. This ONLY measures Google’s organic rankings, not Google Maps or other search engines. So if Google Maps appear when you search your keywords, you need to measure those too (see below). You can still get very helpful data in Search Analytics using filters: click-through rates, impressions, top pages, devices used, countries, and compare your rankings to the last 28 previous days.

google-search-console-search-analytics-queries

Whitespark Local Rank Tracker – track rankings in Google Maps, Bing pack, Google organic, Bing organic, etc. Sort by city names across multiple locations. User-friendly design and starts at $20/month for measuring up to 100 local keywords. Easiest way to measure local keywords.

whitespark-local-rank-tracker

 

14. Bonus Tips

Google Search Console – I mentioned this a couple times in this WordPress local SEO guide, but you really should take advantage of this tool. My video and Google Search Console tutorial show you how to set it up, submit your Yoast XML sitemap to Google, fix crawl errors (broken URLs), and quite a few other site optimizations. You can use it to test AMP pages, rich snippets, and find indexing, mobile, and security issues. Once signed you will need to wait around 1 week for the data to populate. But definitely revisit it and take advantage of it’s features.

Mobile Click-To-Call Button – if you’re running a website where many people call you (eg. a pizza business), adding a mobile click-to-call plugin can improve conversions but is also a ranking factor if you look at “Behavior/Mobile Signals” in Google’s local ranking factors.

Security – run your site through Sucuri security checker and the security section of Google Search Console to make sure you have no errors. Either way the best 2 things you can do is change the generic “Admin” username in the your WordPress login, then install WordFence.

Sucuri Security Scan

Social Media – just make sure you’re active on social media, it’s 2.8% of local SEO.

 

Time To Get To Work

Hopefully this WordPress local SEO guide gives you some ideas! Just remember it’s not all about optimizing your WordPress site – there are many off-page factors that are just as important like Google My Business, citations, and reviews. Start cranking some of this out and within a couple months hopefully your organic searches go up (let me know in the comments)!

SEO Google Analytics

Need help? Drop me a line. Looking to hire someone who actually knows what they’re doing? Check out my WordPress SEO consulting services. I love when people read my tutorials so if you have a question about regarding WordPress and local SEO, I’m glad clarify your questions.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ What are Google's local search ranking factors?

Moz reports Google's local search ranking factors every 2 years. They emphasize geo-targeted pages, directories (citations), links, and reviews.

✅ How do you optimize websites for local SEO?

Research local keywords using tools like Google Autocomplete, create geo-targeted content around those keywords, make your mobile site load fast, get relevant links, and show NAP on localized pages.

✅ What is NAP and why is it important?

NAP stands for business name, address, and phone number. This should be consistent throughout your website and citations. Google uses NAP consistency as a ranking factor.

✅ Where should I build more directories (citations)?

Moz Local analyzes 15 top citations and shows you which ones are incomplete, inconsistent, or duplicates. Whitespark also has lists of top citations for different industries and locations. Google My Busienss, Yelp, and Facebook are some of the most important, but you should built more using Moz Local or Whitespark.

✅ How do I optimize my GMB Page?

Fill out everything including including NAP, categories, descriptions, photos, categories, attributes, hours, menu, services, etc. Verify your page and answer customer questions + respond to reviews. Get a custom URL and post updates on your GMB page.

See Also:
How I Optimized My WordPress Site To Load In .2s (100% GTmetrix/Pingdom Scores)

Cheers,
Tom

12 Ways To “SEO” Your New WordPress Website

You have a new WordPress site, now you want it optimized for search engines.

My 12 step WordPress SEO checklist will help you do that. I’ll walk you through keywords, Yoast’s SEO plugin, Google Search Console and other ways you can optimize your site. There’s a lot of good stuff here (and I know it can be overwhelming) but take it step-by-step and please do NOT hesitate to leave me a comment if you have a question… I’m here to help.

I’ll keep my intro short and sweet because I know  you will find something you didn’t know before, and I’d rather you spend time working on improving your own Google rankings.

Here’s what to do…

 

1. Research Your Keywords – this should ideally be done before building your website so you can align the content with your keywords – though you can always go back and make changes. Start by using Google Autocomplete (see that article to learn the “complete the phrase” and “fill in the blank” tricks I use)… to find long-tail keywords. These are very specific phrases with 3+ individual words and have lower competition + higher conversion rates. Use Autocomplete to create a list of long-tail keywords for all phrases you want to rank for… if you’re a photographer in Chicago your keyword list might include: Chicago wedding photographer, Chicago newborn photographer, Chicago family photographer, etc.

2. Configure Your Permalinks – a few common examples are /services/website-design, /team/john-doe, /locations/chicago. It depends on your pages but consider doing this if you have multiple items under a category. Use permalink settings and parent pages to do this.

3. Configure Yoast WordPress SEO – Yoast can be broken down into 3 steps: configuring the settings, researching keywords, and optimizing content. This will be a core part of your SEO and I suggest anyone writing content on your site be knowledgeable on Yoast. For $295 you can do a training session with me and know it like the back of your hand – or just read those articles. Just be aware that any SEO plugin does not magically shoot up your rankings.

4. Write (And Design) The Content – only target 1 keyword per page and focus on the type of content  people want to see when they search a keyword (testimonials, videos, etc). This can be SUPER beneficial for both SEO and website design. For ideas, check out these 21 ways to spruce up your WordPress content. Seriously, doing this has helped me sooo much.

5. Optimize The Content – go to a page you want to optimize. Scroll down and use Yoast to set a focus keyword. Refresh the page and scroll down again to Yoast. Now use the keyword where it tells you to. Writing descriptive SEO titles and meta descriptions is a big part of this since these appear in Google’s search results. Don’t forget to use the “page analysis” tab to see more content optimization tips… getting green lights means you’re on the right track.

6. Create Internal Links – this is an item you’ll see in Yoast’s page analysis tab but I want to put some emphases on it since links to a page are 20% of a page’s SEO. Using internal links in your content means you’re linking to relevant pages/posts on your website/blog and is the best way to create natural links. Some people don’t like using links for styling purposes (even though you can style them in the CSS) but 20% makes this very, very important.

7. Focus On Site Speed – website speed is a sitewide optimization which can benefit your entire website’s SEO and conversion rates. Setting up the W3 Total Cache plugin, optimizing images to load faster and deleting unnecessary plugins are just a few ways to do this. See my WordPress speed guide for a full tutorial which thousands of people have used.

8. Use Rich Snippets – these make your site have “enhanced” information in search results. You see these with reviews, recipes, even event times. If you have pages that include certain data types you can use my WordPress rich snippets tutorial to markup those pages/posts. Aside from having the best content, these may be the best way to stand out in Google.

9. Configure Google Search Console – setting www vs. non-www, submitting your Yoast sitemap, and checking for HTML improvements in SEO titles/meta descriptions are just a few ways to improve SEO with Search Console. Also check for mobile and security issues.

10. Setup Google Analytics Dashboards – taking 5 minutes to install these 7 Google Analytics dashboards helps you measure traffic from SEO, social media, mobile, referral websites and more. Use these to find specific improvements to make in your website and content. It’s one of those things that is super easy, yet helps a ton. Google’s Page Analysis Chrome extension can also help you see where  people are clicking on a page.

11. Local SEO – Local SEO has different ranking factors so optimizing for a town/city is also different. Your keyword(s) should include the town/city name and your landing pages should be optimized to reflect those. The main different though, is that you want to build citationsget reviews, and make sure you’re using a mobile responsive WordPress theme.

12. Setup Redirects (If You Migrated Your Site) – if you recently redesigned your site and your permalinks (URLs) have changed, you want to do this ASAP. Setting up 301 redirects will direct visitors and search engines from each page’s old URL to the new one. You can do this with the Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin then go to quick redirects –> quick redirects. Add both the old and new URL and this plugin will take care of the rest. Easier than it sounds.

 

Ongoing SEO Maintenance
These are the core parts of your WordPress SEO so before you move forward, spend some time making sure everything is setup correctly and that you’re knowledgeable about each section. I linked to a ton of articles which break down these topics quite nicely, but if you’re stuck you can hire me for a couple hours of SEO consulting and I can work with you 1 on 1 to get your SEO on track – or just leave a comment and I’ll answer them fo’ free!

For ongoing maintenance you’ll want to continuously add new, keyword-targeted content to your website/blog. Use your keyword list for your content development strategy and remember, you’re better off writing 1 AMAZING piece of content than writing 3 mediocre pages. Give people something to share and link to because that is what SEO is all about.

If you need help, leave me a comment and I’ll usually respond within 2 days.

Cheers,

Tom Signature

4 Google Autocomplete Tricks For Finding Keywords (Hint: Use The _ Character To Have Google Complete The Phrase)

Google Autocomplete is still one of the best tools for finding keywords in SEO.

Most people are familiar with the simple “complete the phrase” method but there’s more to Google Autocomplete than that. You can use fill in the blanks, plurals, and different word ordering to get even more keyword ideas. This will help you accomplish your ultimate goal in this exercise – create a keyword list! Because that is basically your SEO strategy right there.

Requirements:

  • You must be signed in to your Google account
  • You must go to google.com (don’t type in the actual browser)
  • You must hide private results to prevent bias listings (see photo below)

Google Private Results

Here’s what to do. You may want to open a Google Doc and start creating a keyword list

 

1. Complete The Phrase

If you want Google to complete the last part of the phrase, start typing in a phrase and Google will complete it. Just remember, this works best when it’s the last part of the phrase you want Google to complete. You’ll want to use the “fill in the blank” method otherwise.

Google Autocomplete - Complete The Phrase

 

2. Fill In The Blank

You can use the underscore character “_” to have Google complete any part of the phrase. Instead of having Google complete only the last part, this can show you a better selection of keywords depending on what type of phrase it is. Assuming you offer different types of photography services in Chicago, this would a perfect way to find out which ones to target.

Google Autocomplete - Fill In The Blank

 

3. Plurals vs. Non-Plurals

Plurals often show different keywords than non-plurals. See how Chicago __ Photographer and Chicago __ Photographers show different results? This helps you find keywords you may have missed, for example fashion and boudoir were not included in the previous screenshot.

Google Autocomplete - Plurals

 

4. Different Word Ordering

Use the “fill in the blank” method only try changing the position of the underscore. Remember, you can use the underscore anywhere to get more keyword ideas. Oh look, “average cost of Chicago wedding photographer” … that would be a nice blog post!

Google Autocomplete - Word Ordering

 

Creating Your Keyword List

Hopefully you wrote down your keywords in a Google Doc or a similar program. Because like I said, the ultimate goal is to created an organized, well-researched keyword list so you can build out your website/blog with those phrases in mind. A keyword list can be created by writing down your different products/services/topics and listing keywords under each…

Keyword List

That’s all I got for now, short and sweet! If you have any questions on Google Autocomplete or keyword research, drop me a line in the comments section. I’m here to help!

Cheers,

Tom Signature

 

 

How To Improve SEO Through Sitewide Optimizations (Things That Affect The Performance Of Your Entire Site)

Sitewide Optimizations SEO

Sitewide optimizations are factors that improve SEO for every page/post on your website.

They can be especially helpful for large websites, for example, improving your page load time by 3 seconds (for 100 pages) can cause a noticeable traffic increase in your Google Analytics. These are basically scalable ways you can improve your website and search engine rankings.

I listed helpful links and resources for each item but if you have any questions, I’m glad to answer them in the comments. I hope you find my list helpful and please share if you did!

 

1. Website Speed
Website speed is both a ranking factor in Google and it improves conversions. It’s a great way to hit 2 birds with 1 stone. Some speed optimizations are sitewide, some only help individual pages load faster. Below are the speed optimizations that are sitewide. For full instructions on making your WordPress site load faster, see my speed optimization guide.

  • Upgrade to faster hosting (I use SiteGround)
  • Configure the W3 Total Cache plugin with Cloudflare + MaxCDN
  • Bulk image optimization
  • Optimize images that appear on multiple pages
  • Clean up database using WP-Optimize
  • Delete unused plugins
  • Find and delete largest plugins using P3 Plugin Performance Profiler

 

2. Mobile Responsiveness
If your theme isn’t responsive, it’s probably time to find a new one since Google’s recent Mobilegeddon update now uses responsiveness as a ranking factor. Your site can still have mobile issues even IF you’re using a responsive theme. That’s why it’s a good idea to run your site through Google’s mobile test as well as check your website on major devices.

Google Mobile Test

 

3. Security Issues
If you’re signed up for Google Search Console they would have already sent you a message informing you of security issues. You can double check this by running your site through Sucuri. WordPress sites have become a major target for malware so it’s a good idea to at least get the basics down. Change the generic “Admin” username, use a strong password, and install the iThemes Security Plugin to run the one-click security optimization button.

Sucuri Website Security Checker

 

4. Google Search Console Optimizations
When you first sign up for Google Search Console they provide you with a list of sitewide optimizations (numbers 1, 2, 3, 5). Find instructions for each Search Console item below…

Google Search Console Recommendations

Add all your website versions – you’ll want to verify both your www and non-www version, as well as the HTTPs version if applicable. You’ll want to do numbers 2-5 for each version.

Select your preferred version – choose whether you want the www to appear in your domain, or not. This is preference and it doesn’t matter for SEO, just make sure the version you set in Google Search Console is the same version as the one set in WordPress (find this under Settings –> General –> “WordPress Address URL” and “Site Address URL”).

Select target country – if your website is targeted to a specific country, set that here.

Submit a sitemap file – Yoast automatically generates a sitemap for you, but you’ll still need to submit it to Google. In WordPress go to SEO –> XML Sitemaps. Click the XML Sitemap button and copy the last part of the URL (https://x7r6b9v3.rocketcdn.me/sitemap_index.xml). Paste into Google Search Console, test, and submit. If you see errors, check Yoast’s post on common sitemap errors.

 

5. SEO Plugin Settings
I assume you’re using the Yoast SEO Plugin since it’s the best out there, but have you gone through it’s different SEO tabs on the left of your dashboard? These are where you configure sitewide SEO settings by filling out information about your website. There’s a lot to it, but you can use my Yoast tutorial to download the same settings I use and import them to your Yoast plugin, or use the instructions from my tutorial to learn how each field affects SEO.

Yoast SEO Settings

 

6. HTTPS + SSL
HTTPS should be used for all websites (I’m currently in the middle of doing this for my site) which makes the communication between a website and a browser secure through encryption. SSL should be used for all eCommerce websites. Both HTTPS and SSL are used as ranking factors in Google, and you can use this tutorial by WP Beginner to setup each one.

 

7. Permalink Structure
Permalinks (URLs) should be used to organize content. Here are some common ways to setup a “pretty” permalink structure which not only helps people navigate your content, but helps search engines learn the architecture of your website (site architecture affects SEO)…

  • website.com/services/web-design/
  • website.com/products/skateboards/
  • website.com/locations/chicago/
  • website.com/team/tom-dupuis/
  • website.com/reviews/macbook-pro/

 

8. Keyword List
The content on your website (and blog) should align with keywords people are searching in Google. While keyword research isn’t an “optimization” it does help you build out your site with those phrases in mind – making keyword research a critical part of sitewide SEO.

I like to start by writing down each product, service, and topic I want to rank for. Use Google Autocomplete to learn what people are actually searching. If you’re a Chicago Photographer you might have Chicago wedding photography, Chicago newborn photography, etc. You would simply research a keyword and create a page for each photography service you offer.

Google Autocomplete Keywords

 

Other “Kind Of” Sitewide Optimizations
Rich snippets – this is what gets videos, review stars, and other “extra information” appearing in search results. This can make you stand out in Google and get more click-throughs and traffic. You can add rich snippets with All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets (free) or WP Rich Snippets (premium plugin but has more customization and design options). View my tutorial on adding rich snippets to WordPress for the premium method.

Internal links – when writing your content, it’s a good idea to link to related pages/posts you have already written. This is a natural way to build links while at the same time, providing helpful resources for readers who want more information about a specific topic. Just remember to use descriptive anchor text for your link text… never use “click here.”

 

That’s all I got for now! If you have questions about sitewide SEO or SEO in general, leave me a comment – I’m here to help. And if you thought this was useful, please share.

Cheers,

Tom Signature

WordPress SEO For Photographers: How To Optimize Your Images, Citations, And WordPress Website For Higher Google Map Rankings

WordPress SEO For Photographers

If you’re a photographer, have a WordPress site, and you want to use local SEO to rank higher in Google Maps + localized results for photography-related keywords, this tutorial is for you.

I’ll show you how to use Google’s local search ranking factors to improve rankings by optimizing your Google My Business Page, citations, photos, and how to use Yoast’s SEO plugin for content optimization. No matter what kind of photography you do, it’s actually easy to do WordPress SEO for photographers (local SEO is usually much easier than national SEO). It can take 3-6 weeks to see results (Google takes time to update) but you can use Google Search Console’s search analytics to track your rankings, clicks, and overall traffic from SEO.

SEO For Photographers

Now let’s jump into it…

 

Understanding Google’s Local SEO Ranking Factors

No matter what industry you’re in, if you’re doing local SEO these are the ranking factors associated with Google. They are taken from Moz who does a survey of Google’s ranking factors every 2 years. This tells us which core ranking factors we should be focusing on.

Local-Search-Ranking-Factors

 

These are from 2015’s local search ranking factors, but most of them have not changed…

Top-20-Local-Search-Ranking-Factors

I go over these in my tutorial (drop me a comment if you need clarification on anything), but here is a translation with more practical tips:

  • Complete Your Google My Business Page (complete and verify your profile)
  • Sign up for generic citations (Yelp), local (COC), and photography directories
  • Get reviews on your Google My Business Page, Yelp, others
  • Use a mobile responsive and SEO-friendly WordPress photography theme
  • Use your primary keyword on your homepage (using Yoast’s SEO Plugin)
  • Get links from customers, directories, local websites, relevant photography websites
  • Complete your social media profiles, get followers, post updates

 

Complete Your Google My Business Page

This is the easiest way to improve your Google Maps rankings. In fact you HAVE to have a Google My Business Page to even show up in Google Maps. Make your profile 100% complete.

Add your website, hours, and list “photographers” as the category. If you’re a wedding photographer, list this as your primary category then list “photographer” as the secondary category. Now write a thorough introduction, verify your page, and complete your profile. If you already have a Google My Business page, do not create a duplicate listing.

Google My Business Page

 

Improve Directory Listings With Moz Local

Moz Local Dashboard

Run your website and zip code through Moz Local to get a report on your directories. You will get a score and recommendations to improve some of the most important directories…

Moz Local

Click on the different tabs, view the red notifications to see what items need fixing, then use the “update listing” links to improve those directories. Notice how consistency of information (business name, address, phone, categories) and not having duplicates are important. If you don’t want to do this, you can pay Moz $84/year. However, it’s usually a matter of adding photos and making sure your profile is consistent and 100% complete.

Moz Local Incomplete Listings

 

Build More Directories With Whitespark

Now that you have your core directories down, let’s build more. This will further improve your rankings so please don’t think this is a waste of time – it most certainly is not. These are the kind of extra steps that will help you outrank competitors. Notice “citation volume” is a direct ranking factor in the local SEO pie chart (yellow section) – so the more the merrier.

Top Online Directories

Do It Yourselfuse Whitespark’s list of top 50 directories
Hire Whitesparkpay Whitespark one-time fee of $4-5 per directory (worth it)

 

Ask Customers For Reviews

Online Reviews On Google My Business

Google My Business and Yelp are most important. Simply follow-up with customers after the work and ask for a review (leave them instructions with a link to your Google My Business and Yelp page). Make this a priority since reviews are good for both branding and SEO. Sometimes legitimate Yelp reviews get filtered out, so read this post to learn how to avoid it.

 

Use An SEO-Friendly Photography Theme

Let’s talk about optimizing your website – which starts with your WordPress theme. You want a theme that is SEO-friendly, responsive, secure, and loads fast. At the same time your theme should be built by a reliable developer so it won’t crap out on you down the road.

Djazz WordPress Photographer Theme

My list of photography themes is a good place to start. They all have the SEO-friendly features listed above, and they’re all built in the Genesis Framework which is recommended by Yoast, Google’s Matt Cutts, and the founder of WordPress – Matt Mullenweg. If you don’t know what Genesis is then you can read about it on StudioPress’ website. But it is the best way to build a WordPress photography website that is SEO-friendly.

 

Learn Your Keywords

If you haven’t learned your photography-related keywords, here’s how to do that…

Photography SEO Keywords

Just go to google.com and type in your keywords using this format. Google Autocomplete will fill-in-the-blank with the most common phrases people are searching, with higher phrases having more searches than the lower ones. Just be sure the last character you type is an underscore “_” so Google will fill-in-the-blank. You can try other combinations too.

Keep in mind your 1 primary keyword (eg. Chicago Wedding Photographer) should be targeted on the homepage. If you have multiple keywords (baby, nanny, maternity, etc) you will need to create a new page for each of those for better keyword-targeting.

This leads me to the next step…

 

Target Keywords Using Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin

Yoast WordPress SEOf Plugin

You will use Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin to target keyword(s) on your website. This is where a lot of photographers get overwhelmed. Don’t though, because I made this very easy.

Step 1 – Configure The Yoast Settings
Once you install Yoast, go ahead and download this zip file below which includes the Yoast settings I use. Upload this to your WordPress site using the SEO tab on the left side of your dashboard. You will go to Tools –> Import And Export –> Import. Upload the zip file.

DOWNLOAD MY YOAST SETTINGS (ZIP FILE)

You will need to navigate through the Yoast settings and change a few things…

  • General –> Company Info (fill this out with your info, and upload a default logo which should be at least 200 x 200 pixels)
  • General –> Webmaster Tools (see video below)
  • Social Settings –> fill this out with your own social media links
  • Advanced –> Breadcrumbs –> use your own company name

 

Step 2 – Target Keyword(s) On Your Website
As I mentioned earlier, you want to target your 1 primary keyword on your homepage. To do this, go to Yoast’s SEO tab on the left of your dashboard –> Titles & Metas –> Homepage. You should be able to fill out your SEO title and meta description here (this is the text that appears in Google’s search results), or click the link to view the page where you can edit this.

Targeting Keywords With Yoast

Use the same format in the photo. Write a unique meta description summarizing what you offer while including your keyword in a way that sounds natural. This is very important as it’s the forefront of your SEO. Also make sure you don’t go over the character limit of 156.

This might be all you need to do. You can’t include the keyword in the URL (this applies to any website’s homepage) so that’s OK. Most photographers prefer to have no text on the homepage (in the photo the article heading and content is red with “no”). I understand most photographers prefer let the photos do the talking, but it WILL benefit your SEO if you include text on your homepage. Otherwise Google will only have your photos to go by.

I suggest adding “Chicago Wedding Photographer” (or whatever your primary keyword is) as your title. Then include a short paragraph of what you want to tell your audience, while also including the keyword here. With all the different typography and layouts, you should be able to make this look nice. Here’s a good example of a website that uses text in the design.

How To Target Multiple Keywords
If you have multiple keywords (baby, nanny, maternity, etc) then target the main keyword (eg. Chicago Photographer) on your homepage. Now create a new page for each different type of photography. This gives you a better chance of ranking high for those specific types of photography since searchers will find THAT page in Google – not your homepage. Make sure each page contains unique content since duplicate content is an SEO no-no.

To optimize those pages for their keywords, use the same strategies described above only set “Chicago Baby Photographer” (or whatever type of photography it is) as your focus keyword. Then optimize that page using Yoast’s SEO Plugin. If you need help using Yoast to optimize your content for green lights, here’s a video…

 

Optimize Images For Keywords

Before uploading an image to your WordPress site, make sure it has a descriptive file name. Instead of using “DSC27272” a better file name would be “willow trees blowing in the wind.”

Willow trees blowing in the wind

 

Optimize Images To Load Faster

A common issue with photography websites is that the images are so large, they take forever to load. Since website speed is a ranking factor in Google, you don’t want this.

Luckily there are a few ways to prevent this…

Serve Scaled Images
If a featured image calls for 150 x 150 dimensions but you use an image that is 300 x 300, you are not using the correct featured image dimensions. This will cause slower like times by 200%. To solve this, learn the correct dimensions of your featured images (or even images in your slider) and resize them in the media section with the correct dimensions.

Another example of not serving scaled images, is when you drag to resize an image in the visual editor. This resizes the displayed image but not the actual image file (this is what “serve scaled images” means). The correct way to resize images is in the media library:

Serve Scaled Images

Optimize Images
Install the WP Smush.it plugin and go to Media –> Bulk Smush.it –> Run all my images through WP Smush.it right now (screenshot below). That’s it! You can automatically smush images once uploaded under Settings –> Media. I like to also run EWWW Image Optimizer which can catch images missed by WP Smush.it.

Bulk Image Smushit

If you don’t want to mess with images or you just want more tips on making your site load faster, see my WordPress speed optimization guide. There’s tons of good tips there.

 

Use Your Business Name, Address, And Phone # In Your Footer

I know, I love easy tips too… and this one doesn’t get easier. This helps with the whole consistency of information thing that Google looks for. In WordPress, you usually find this under Theme Options (look for the copyright area) or in the Editor –> Footer.

Here’s how I list mine:
Online Media Masters | 1324 West Byron Street, Chicago IL 60613 | 847-271-2422

 

Get Links To Your Website

Looking good so far! You’ve got your directories in place, your website optimized for your keyword(s), and you’ve make some other optimizations to improve your photography SEO. But let’s not forget about links to your website since they are essential! When people link to you, it’s a strong signal that tells Google your website is important and to rank it higher.

So how do you get links?

  • Asking customers to link to you
  • Asking partners to link to you (eg. you’re someone’s preferred photographer)
  • Local directories like the ones from Moz Local and Whitespark
  • Chamber Of Commerce
  • BBB
  • Getting published in articles (eg. in the Huffington Post)
  • Creating useful content on your blog (videos are good for this)
  • Making sure you have a nice website design
  • Sharing your photography on social media
  • Sharing your photography through an email list
  • Add social media sharing buttons to your website
  • Other publicity/marketing to get your website “out there”

 

Kick Your Social Media Into Gear

You know that awesome picture you took the other week? Did you post it on your Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Instagram account? You SHOULD! Spend some time creating nice social media profiles and cover images. Add your pictures, write an introduction, and so forth. Now keep updating those profiles with new photos. Then you’re golden.

 

Ongoing SEO Maintenance

The main “maintenance” involves asking more customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business and Yelp page. It can also mean creating more directories, adding useful content to your blog, and posting on social media. But once you’re setup with all the WordPress SEO tools and tweaks, local SEO should be pretty low maintenance.

I hope you found this helpful! If you did, please share :) or if you have a question about your photography’s WordPress SEO, drop me a line in the comments. Glad to help you out.

Cheers,

Tom Signature

9 Easy Ways To Make Your WordPress Site SEO-Friendly

Make Your WordPress Site SEO-Friendly

Want some quick and easy tips to make your WordPress site SEO-friendly?

I’ll show you how to do this using different tools/strategies including Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin, Google Webmaster Tools, and keyword optimization. There is more to SEO than 9 items (there’s over 200 factors in Google) but my tips will get you on the right track – and I’m sure you will learn something new especially with the resources I mention in this guide.

Here’s what to do…

 

1. Get Your SEO Foundation Down

Domain – having keywords in the domain helps SEO, but according to Matt Cutts it’s better to choose something brandable. More people will remember your site, trust it, link to it, etc.

Hosting – site speed, uptimes, and security all affect SEO – and hosting is the best place to start. I use SiteGround’s semi-dedicated GoGeek plan ($14.95/month) but they also have other shared hosting for as low as $6.99/month as well as Cloud hosting for $54/month. You don’t want hosting issues affecting your SEO because trust me, it can. Choose a good host!

Theme – some WordPress themes are more SEO-friendly than others, since your theme affects site speed, security, support for rich snippets and other SEO factors. Here’s my list of 25 themes which are SEO-friendly and built in the Genesis Framework (Genesis is SEO-friendly in itself and recommended by the Founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg.

 

2. Leverage The Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

Yoast is the most robust SEO Plugin, but it must be setup and utilized properly if you want the best results for your WordPress SEO. To do this, I broke Yoast down into 3 steps:

Configuring The Settings – see my tutorial which includes a zip file of the Yoast settings I use (you can upload it directly to your WordPress site). There are some fields you will need to change in the Yoast settings for YOUR website – which I’ve listed in that tutorial.

Researching Keywords – see the video…

 

Optimizing Content For Keywords – see the video…

 

3. Use Yoast’s Other WordPress SEO Plugins

 

4. Organize Your Permalinks

Structuring your permalinks around your different product/service/location keywords is part of “site structure” and making your site user-friendly. Below are some common examples of ways to do this, which you would do in WordPress using parent pages.

Common Permalink Structures

To do this, create the parent page (eg. /services) then create the other page (eg. /web-design). When editing the web design page you will see an option on the right of your dashboard to set the parent page which in this case would be “services” (photo below). This will make the web design page’s permalink read: website.com/services/web-design/

WordPress Parent Pages

 

5. Make Your WordPress Site Load Faster

 

6. Interlink Related Content

In step #2 I talked about configuring the Yoast settings. I already wrote an extensive article on how to do that, so I simply linked to that article. This helps you, my readers, find additional information about Yoast. At the same time it creates a link to that article which improve it’s SEO. Interlinking pages/posts like this is the easiest way to build natural links!

 

7. Create Videos

Videos improve engagement, reduce bounce rates, increase conversions, and the videos themselves can even appear in search results (photo below). You can also use Yoast’s Video SEO Plugin to better optimize your videos. Just make sure you follow the same basic SEO strategies as you do your pages/posts (research a keyword, then use it in the file name before you upload it, video tile, description, then promote it to get views/likes/comments.

Video Search Results

 

8. Check For Google Webmaster Tools Errors

Fixing mobile issues, security issues, bad meta descriptions, and other errors will improve SEO. Once you’ve verified Google Webmaster with Yoast, go through my list…

HTML Improvements
Find this in your Google Webmaster Tools account under search appearance –> HTML Improvements. This tells you which SEO titles and meta descriptions are too long, short, are missing, or where it’s a duplicates. Click the links in GWT to go to each page and fix it.

HTML Improvements - Google Webmaster Tools

 

Mobile Issues
Find under search traffic –> mobile usability (or check here).

Mobile Issues - Google Webmaster Tools

 

Security Issues
Find under security issues (a main tab on the left).

Google Webmaster Tools Security

 

9. Yes, Content Is Still King

You know content is king, but what have you done about it? Other than checking for typos and making sure your copy reads well, what else can you do?

Well I’ll tell you – you should spruce it up! Use videos, columns, add an HTML table of contents, embed Twitter statuses and make your content shine! I wrote a nice list on how to spruce up your WordPress content which includes 21 ideas – it’s worth checking out.

TinyMCE-Spellcheck

That’s all I got for now! I have tons of resources on my sidebar widgets/footer if you want more tips on making your WordPress site SEO-friendly. Other than that, please share this article if you found it helpful! Or drop me a line if you need help with anything SEO-related.

Cheers,

Tom Signature